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Full text of "Reference Series Volume 9 Issue 3"

Working With 



Reference Series 





Move, Share, Delete, Recover, Update, Compress, View 

Encrypt, Print Rename, Organize, Disinfect, Synchronize, Identify, Decrypt 



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Working With PC Files 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 



REFERENCE SERIES VOL. 9 ISS. 3 



All computers are systems for inputting, storing, 
and manipulating data. This issue explores how 
computers work with data and gives step-by-step 
advice on how to digitize, organize, delete, and recover 
different types of information. 



40 Microsoft Word 

Learn What To Expect When You Update Your File 

41 Microsoft Excel 

Multiple Versions Make It Easy To Save & Upgrade Files 

42 Microsoft Access 

How Compatible Is Your Database? 



ORGANIZING DATA 



4 Storing Your World 

Common Files In Their Natural Habitats 

7 The Nature Of Data 

How Computers Work With Data & Files 



12 Organize Files & Folders 

Put Everything In Its Place 

16 Organize Your Desktop 

Arrange Your Icons & Taskbar 



18 A Whole New Outlook 

Learn How To Organize Your Email Messages 




43 A Look Back With PowerPoint 2003 

Preserve Features & Formats 

44 Microsoft FrontPage Plays Nice 

Web Tools Work Among Most Versions 

45 Update Archived WordPerfect Data 

How To Resurrect Old Files 



46 Corel Paradox 1 1 

Leave No Format Behind 

47 Corel Quattro Pro File Crunching 

Cut Through The Numbers 



48 Get Better With The Old & New 

Corel Presentations File Management 




20 Pick Up The Crumbs 

Learn To Handle Bookmarks, Favorites & Shortcuts 



49 Microsoft Money 2005 

Keep Your Financial Data In Check 



22 System File Filing 

Tools To Straighten Out Your Computer's Key Components 

STORING FILES 

24 How Drives Store Files 

Space Allocation System Makes Windows Unique 

27 The Question Of Compression 

How Does It Work? 

30 File Encryption 

Hide Your Words From Onlookers 

34 Personal Space 

Keep Your Data Safe From Wandering PC Guests 

UPDATING YOUR INFC 

37 The Right Tool For The Job 

Some Program Files Just Don't Cooperate 
With Other Programs 



50 Intuit Quicken 

Match Account Balances & 
Information After Upgrading 

51 Adobe PageMaker 

Ease The Process Of Sharing 
Publications Among Versions 

52 QuarkXPress 6.5 

Don't Let A Little Incompatibility 
Hamper Your Creativity 

53 Get The Picture 

Understanding Graphics Formats 



55 Migrating Office Suites To StarOffice 7 

Catch A Rising Star 

MOVING DATA 

59 Ship Out 

Move Files From An Old PC To A New One 




63 From Hot Wax To Digital Tracks 

Convert Your Vinyl LPs To CDs 

67 Digitize Your Cassette Collection 

How To Convert Your Mix Tapes To CD 




118 Compressed File Saver 

Don't Get Lost In The Translation 

1 21 Password Recovery 

A Missing Password Doesn't Mean All Is Lost 



71 Memory Burn 

Save Your Videos To DVD 



124 Land Of The Lost 

Tips For Locating Misplaced Files 



75 How To Transfer 8mm Film To DVD 

Moving Your Memories 

79 From The Photo Files 

Transfer, Store & Share Your Digital Images 



83 Online Photo Albums 

Let The World Rummage 
Through Your Shoebox Of Photos 



87 From Hard Copy To Hard Drive 

Archive Your Paperwork Into Your PC 




127 Salvage Damaged Data 

Recovery Services Revive Your Ruined Drive 

131 Undo The Damage 

Recover Files From Floppy Diskettes & Optical Media 

133 Condition Critical 

How To Recognize Files That Are 
Imperative To Your System 

136 Get It Back 

How To Recover A File You Just Deleted 




90 Stay In Sync 

Keep Your PDA & Desktop Data Up-To-Date 

93 From Notebook To PC (& Back) 

Transfer Files Easily From One To The Other 



96 PC-To-PC Data Transfers 

There's More Than One Way To 
Move Data Between Computers 



100 From Slave To Master 

A New Hard Drive Can Improve Performance 

1 03 All Aboard The Data Shuttle 

Moving Files Between PCs & Macs 

RECOVERING DATA 

1 06 How Do I Lose Thee? Let Me Count The Ways . 

Viruses, Crackers, Malfunctions & 
Human Error Spell Doom For Your Data 



109 Recovering File Fragments 

Discovering Digital Debris 



112 File Corruption & Its Consequences 

How To Deal With Data On The Wrong Side Of The Tracks 




139 Recover Your Web Sites 

Find Your Past By Retracing Your Browser's History 

141 Back Up A Bit 

Master Disaster With Backups 

DIGITAL MEDIA FILES 

145 Music Your Way 

All About Digital Music Files 

149 Binary Memories 

Pick The Perfect File Type For Photography 

153 Feature Attraction 

A Spotlight On Digital Video Formats 

OPERATING SYSTEM FILES 

157 Windows 98 Files 

OS More Evolution Than Revolution 

161 Windows Me 

Upgrade Introduces Better System Protection 

165 Windows 2000 

OS Shares Features With Its Predecessors 



115 Infected Files & Systems 

Saving Your System From A Fall 



169 Are You experienced? 

WinXP Takes File Management To The Next Level 



SUITE FILES 



173 Taking Care Of Business 

Make The Most Of Microsoft Office 2003 

177 Workin' Microsoft Works 

Explore The Files That Make Up This Suite 

182 WordPerfect Office Suite 12 

Working With Files In Three Corel Apps 

186 Working With StarOffice 7 

File Formats & More In Sun's Office Suite 

FILE EXTENSION INDEX 

190 Identify File Types 

Look Up Unknown File Types In This Index 




MISCELLANEA 



205 Delete Data From Your Desktop 

Make Sure The Files You 

Send To The Recycle Bin Are Really Gone 

209 Fewer File Frustrations 

Solve Your File Compatibility Crises 

212 Print Any File 

Take The "Hard" Out Of 
Getting A Hard Copy 

214 New Life For Old Files 

Get 'Em Back in Working Order 

216 Preventive Maintenance For Files 

Take Care of Your Files & 
They'll Take Care Of You 

218 Save As HTML 

Convert Your Office Documents 
For Viewing On The Web 




OTHER 



221 Glossary Of Terms 

222 General Index 



Editorial Staff: Ronald D. Kobler/ 
Christopher Trumble / Michael Sweet / 
Samit Gupta Choudhuri / Corey Russman / 
Rod Scher / Calvin Clinchard / Katie Sommer 
/ Kimberly Fitzke / Katie Dolan / Blaine Flamig 
/ Raejean Brooks / Rebecca Christensen / 
Sally Curran / Nate Hoppe / Jennifer Suggitt / 
Trista Kunce / Sheila Allen / Linne Ourada / 
Liz Dixon / Joy Martin / Ryan Syrek / Brian 
Weed / Sarie Whitson / Marty Sems / 
Chad Denton / Nathan Chandler / Kylee 
Dickey / Josh Gulick / Andrew Leibman / 
Vince Cogley / Sam Evans / Jennifer Johnson 
Web Staff: Missy Fletcher / Laura Curry / 
Brandie Humphrey /Travis Brock 
Customer Service: Becky Rezabek/ 
Lana Matic / Lindsay Albers 
Subscription Renewals: Liz Kohout / 
Connie Beatty / Matt Boiling / Patrick Kean / 
Charmaine Vondra / Miden Ebert / Kathy 
DeCoito / Stephanie Contreras / 
Nicole Buckendahl 

Art & Design: Lesa Call / Fred Schneider/ 
Carrie Benes /Ginger Riley / Sonja Warner / 
Aaron Weston / Aaron Clark / Kelli Lambertsen 
/ Lori Garris / Jason Codr / Andria Schultz / 
Erin Rodriguez / Lindsay Anker 
Newsstand: Garth Lienemann / Kelly 
Richardson / Chris McGreer / Jeff Schnittker 
Advertising Sales: Grant Ossenkop / 
Cindy Pieper / Brooke Wolzen / Eric Cobb 
Marketing: Mark Peery / Marcy Gunn / 
Jen Clausen / Scot Banks / Ashley Hannant / 
Luke Vavricek 

Copyright 2005 by Sandhills Publishing Company. All rights 
reserved. Reproduction of material appearing in Smart CoiittittHug 
REFERENCE SERIES: Working With PC Files is strictly prohibited 
without written permission. Printed in the U.S.A. GST # 
123482788RT0001. Smart Computing is published monthly by 
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to Smart Computing, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501. 



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Publishing- 



Organizing Data 



Q 



k 



Storing 

Your World 

Common Files In Their Natural Habitats 



// 



It's in the computer," is what we 
say, almost dismissively. It 
means, "Don't ask me for that 
piece of information. It's stored 
somewhere, some way, so I don't 
have to remember it all the time." 

You may know that every bit of in- 
formation on a PC takes the form of 
one or more files, and that the com- 
puter keeps those files on one storage 
device or another. But today, people 
are storing more and more types of 
files, including music databases, busi- 
ness presentations, and backups of 
their cell phones' address books. 

In this article, we'll give you a bird's- 
eye view of what typical users are 
keeping on their PCs, and what kinds 
of storage gizmos they're using to hold 
them. As you read, glance at the 
"Storage Options" chart in this article. 
It's a cheat sheet on the most popular 
and practical devices available for your 
computer or consumer electronics. 
Note that some older technologies, 
such as tape drives and Zip disks, have 
fallen out of favor as rivals such as 
DVD and hard drives have become 
cheaper per gigabyte and/or faster. 

Productivity Files 

Good software can make it easy to 
create and edit a blog (a Web log or 
online diary), balance your checkbook, 
and add a photo to the family holiday 
letter. Of course, that means a new file 
for every new thing you make. 

Nearly all of the productivity-related 
files you create reside on your PC's 
hard drive, so they're right at your fin- 
gertips when you get down to business. 
In addition, the applications you use 



(such as Outlook or iTunes) and 
your OS (operating system, such 
as Windows XP) sit on your 
drive, too, because it is bigger and 
faster than other storage devices. 

To keep from losing that data if 
something goes wrong with your com- 
puter, you can back up its files to 
rewritable DVDs or CDs, or even an- 
other hard drive. Other backup options 
include NAS (network attached stor- 
age), which involves a hard drive or 
multidrive device connected to a net- 
work router or hub, or possibly an on- 
line storage service for off-site backups. 

Whether you're typing a grievance 
to the city council or just a recipe for 
black bean salsa, a word processor or 
text editor can help. The files you 
create and save in these applications are 
commonly referred to as documents, 
text files, or Word docs (after Micro- 
soft Word). These are small files, so 
they're easy to move to other com- 
puters by email, USB flash memory 
drives, or even floppy diskettes. 

On the financial side, Quicken, 
Money, and other software help thou- 
sands of users to manage their cash 
flows. Come tax season, folks calculate 
tax returns with TaxCut or TurboTax. 
The financial software files you create 
are more important to back up than 
other productivity-type files, mainly for 
tax reasons. In fact, you'll probably 
want to keep a CD or DVD copy off- 
site, such as in a safe deposit box, plus a 
hard copy in your paper file cabinet. 

Other business files, such as spread- 
sheets, presentations, and databases, 
should also exist on your hard drive as 
well as on backup media. It's another 
good idea to back up your email and 




contacts if you run 
a small business. 

Some files called installers do just 
that: install applications on your PC. 
It saves you time and money to buy 
new applications, such as photo edi- 
tors and antivirus software, as down- 
loads instead of CDs. Installer 
downloads usually have an EXE file 
extension (such as SetupAntispy- 
ware.exe), which you double-click to 
install the program. Back these up in- 
stead of paying extra for the ability to 
redownload them later. 

Entertainment Files 

One reason to keep your bulky dig- 
ital photos on your hard drive is to edit 
them with software, such as to remove 
red-eye and scratches or stitch together 
panoramic views. Another reason is to 
use them in a screen saver's slideshow. 
Otherwise, it makes sense to archive 
those space-robbing photo files to CD 
or DVD. Note that many optical disc 
burning (writing) apps can create 
Photo CDs that are playable in com- 
patible DVD players. 

Digital music has sent many a PC 
user to the store for a bigger hard drive. 
Today, many users rip their CDs, or 
copy songs to their computers as com- 
pressed music files, such as MP3 (Mov- 
ing Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 
3) and WMA (Windows Media Audio) 
files. They can play the songs from the 
PC as if it's a virtual jukebox, copy 
them to players such as Apple's hard 
drive-based iPod (www.apple.com) or 



4 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Q Organizing Data 



Creative's flash memory Zen Micro 
(www.creative.com), or write them to 
CD or DVD as backups or for playback 
in compatible car and home stereos. A 
CD-R can hold about 1 1 hours of CD- 
quality audio files, compared to about 
80 minutes of uncompressed songs, 
which cuts the number of discs you 
need in your glove compartment. 

Home movies and other video files 
are natural candidates for a move off 
your hard drive to CD or DVD because 
they take up so much space. This in- 
cludes the TV shows you record with 
your TiVo or other DVR (digital vid- 
eo recorder), if there's an option to 
transfer its hard drive's contents. As 
with audio files, your CD/DVD burn- 
ing software may offer you a choice of 
writing the video to disc as one or more 
files for backup, or as a DVD-Video or 
VCD (video CD) that will play in DVD 
players as well as with PC playback 
software. In addition, some utilities can 
compress movie files to fit on note- 
books or PMP (portable media player) 
devices, such as the Archos AV420 
(www.archos.com) . 




Ebooks, or elec- 
tronic books, take 
the form of text 
files in various 
formats you can 
read on your 
PC or PDA. 
Scholastic 
and technical ebooks 
are noted for their updatability, 
but other nonfiction titles and novels 
are more popular, especially with trav- 
elers. If you like an ebook, back it up; if 
you hate it, delete it. 

Lastly, gamers spend days, even 
weeks, getting through fantasy worlds 
in games such as Half-Life 2. They ac- 
cumulate files of saved game points 
along the way. They may also build 
characters that gather skills and pos- 
sessions over time. Prudent gamers 
occasionally back up their saved 
games and character files from their 
hard drive to their preferred backup 
medium. This protects hours in- 
vested in a game, and allows players 
to return to game levels they found 
most enjoyable. 



The Ever-Growing Hard Drive 



It ^^\ h, I'd never use that much space," we all muse when we hear about 

^^the latest, biggest hard drive. And yet, a couple of years later, that 
same hard drive no longer sounds huge at all. 

In the mid-1980s, DOS users couldn't believe they'd ever fill up their 40MB 
drives, which incidentally cost as much as a nice used car. Today, many users 
snap more than 40MB of digital photos before noon at their 
Memorial Day picnics. Five years ago, a 20CB drive was plenty for 
most users; today, it barely has room for Windows XP SP2, 
Microsoft Office 2003, and all of their updates. Now Hitachi (and 
Seagate this summer) is selling a drive with a tremendous 500GB— 
half a terabyte (TB) — of storage space. 

In case all these hard drive capacities just seem like 
a jumble of numbers and letters to you, here's a 
more visual representation of their phenomenal 
growth over the last quarter century. 



1,024MB: 
1 ,024GB = 



1GB 

1TB 



CO 

s 

LO 



m 



o 



m 
o 





m 




(5 


m 


o 


(5 


oo 


o 


^^ 


<* 


1 



1980 



1985 



| 1993 i 1999 i 2000 | 2001 | 2003 | 2005 



Hitachi's new Deskstar 7K500 is the first 
desktop hard drive to reach 500GB; that's half a 
terabyte (TB), or about 5 million digital photos. 

Storage In Store 

For the next several years, hard drives 
will continue to be the main storage 
mechanisms for computers and many 
consumer devices. Optical drives will 
remain cost-effective as well, especially 
as emerging types of disc formats, such 
as Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD, store 
several times more data. Likewise, flash 
memory will continue to spread to new 
devices as it becomes cheaper, speedier, 
and more spacious. 

IDC Program Director of Storage 
Research Dave Reinsel says that home 
users will continue to keep data files 
primarily on the devices that use them, 
such as recorded TV shows on their 
TiVos and spreadsheets on their PCs. 
Over time, however, users will start 
looking for more ways to use one de- 
vice to access files on another. 

"I think we look to the evolution of 
storage in business to see how it evolves 
in the home," says Reinsel. "First, it be- 
comes inconvenient because data that 
exists in islands of various storage de- 
vices cannot be accessed by other appli- 
cations or devices. That will prompt a 
desire to either have shared access or 
centralized storage, which is probably 
going to be the eventual method." 

Home networks have long been the 
customary avenue to such shared ac- 
cess, although new users can now skip 
wired Ethernet networks in favor of 
wireless ones using the Wi-Fi (techni- 
cally known as 802.11b) and/or Wi-Fi 
G (802. llg) standards. Although wire- 
less connections require attention to 
security features, they do make it much 
easier to fling data from the devices 
storing it to the devices that need it. 

For example, if your car's GPS navi- 
gation system needs more maps before 
a trip, and its stereo needs some fresh 
songs, you want to be able to wirelessly 
grab those files from the driveway be- 
fore you drive off. If you want to send 
your mother the latest family photos, 
you can send them from your cell 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 5 



^ Organizing Data 



phone's camera to a Web server, which 
will pipe them to her Ceiva digital 
photo frame (www.ceiva.com). Back at 
home, your Netgear MP 101 Wireless 
Digital Music Player (www. netgear 
.com) can pull song files from your 
computer and play them on a stereo in 
another room. 

As consumer electronics get smarter 
and better able to interact with PCs and 
networked storage devices and PCs, 
they will create a more heterogeneous 
network in your home. Of course, 
DRM (digital rights management), or 
copy protection schemes, can throw 
a wrench into the works of entertain- 
ment file storage and transfer. Consu- 
mer rights battles, such as the one over 
recording digital TV, are already raging. 

RAID. As for backing up all these 
data files, including ones with senti- 
mental value (such as wedding photos 
and other irreplaceables), IDC says that 
home users will again follow the lead of 
business. "There are a number of ways 
to protect data, but we see RAID (re- 
dundant array of independent disks) 
technology as a very likely way for data 



to be protected within the home," 
Reinsel says. 

A RAID stores data on two or more 
hard drives to add immediate data 
backup and/or speed to a computer, al- 
though it's still important to back up 
files to other media in case of virus or 
worm attack. Many plug-and-play 
NAS appliances have RAIDs built in, 
invisible to the user. For do-it-your- 
selfers, many PC motherboards let 
users combine two to four hard drives 
to form some types of RAIDs. 

At the inexpensive level, users can 
choose from risky speed (RAID — 
striping, or writing part of each data file 
on a different drive or platter within a 
drive) or data redundancy with half the 
storage space (RAID 1 — mirroring, or 
writing identical data to two drives). 

Pricier types of RAIDs, such as 5, 6, 
10, and 0+1, typically strike a balance 
between RAID 0's speed and RAID l's 
fault tolerance. Some of these require 
users to add a controller card or buy the 
RAID premade in a NAS appliance. 

Personal data. The storage of highly 
personal data is as controversial today 



Major Storage Device Options For A PC 

These are the most typical choices you have for storing your PC and consumer 
electronics files, minus some has-beens. For instance, floppy diskettes still exist, but 
they're considered small and unreliable. Prices are from online stores, as applicable. 



as ever. It's one thing for someone to 
keep medical records on their SanDisk 
Waterproof USB Drive (www.sandisk 
.com) as a high-tech MedicAlert brace- 
let for use by paramedics if the wearer 
is unconscious. It's another thing en- 
tirely for a school district to mandate 
student ID cards with flash memory 
chips packed with personal info, such 
as grades and test scores. This issue will 
heat up as various proponents clash 
with privacy advocates over what is 
best in each situation. 

Longevity Lessons 

Whatever devices you entrust with 
your files, be sure to treat them well. 
No storage mechanism will withstand 
much in the way of abuse, such as a 
drop off a desk for a hard drive or a 
couple of hours on a hot dashboard for 
a DVD. Radical temperature changes 
can cause problems with condensation, 
and electrostatic shock can kill some 
devices in an instant. Keep CDs and 
DVDs in their cases to avoid scratches 
and store them away from sunlight. 
With a little precaution, your data can 
remain safely "in the computer" for 
years to come. H 

by Marty Sems 





Capacity 


Price 


Speed 


Comments 


Hard Drive 


40GB to 500GB 


$35 to $350 


fast 


Fast and cost-effective main storage device 


External Hard Drive 
(2.5-inch disks and larger) 


5GB to 400GB 
(500GB forthcoming) 


$11 6 to $600 


medium-fast 


A fast option for backup; easy to add 


Rewriteable DVD Drive 


4.7GB; 8.5GB 
(double-layer disc) 


$48 and up (drive) 
$0.30 and up (discs) 


medium 


Write-once DVD-R, DVD+R, and CD-R; 
rewriteable DVD-RW, DVD+RW and CD-RW 


CD-RW Drive 


700MB (CD-R); 640MB 
to 700MB (CD-RW) 


$16 and up (drive) 
$0.18 and up (discs) 


slow-medium 


CD-R/RW media is cheap and portable 


Flash Memory Drive 


16MB to 8GB 


$13 to $1,100 


slow-medium 


Typically USB; some use FireWire and/or 
tiny hard drives; now broadly supported 


Flash Memory Card 


16MB to 4GB 


$8 to $300 


slow-medium 


Many rewriteable varieties, including CF, SD, 
MMC, Memory Stick, xD-Picture 


Microdrive 


340MB to 4GB 
(6GB forthcoming) 


$1 00 to $300 


slow-medium 


Miniature Compact-Flash Type II hard drive 


Network Attached 
Storage (NAS) 


40GB and up 


$150 and up 


medium-fast 


Appliance with a hard drive(s); connects to a 
hub or router for access by networked PCs 


Online Storage Service 
(personal or small business) 


5MB to 80GB 


freeto$165/month 


slow 


Accessible over the Web, but slow 


Web-based Email 


250MB to 2GB 


freeto$19.95/year 


slow 


Convenient in a pinch; slow; possible 
antivirus scanning 



6 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Q Organizing Data 



The Nature 
Of Data 

How Computers Work With Data & Files 

mi 




Back in the good old days, work- 
ing with lots of information 
meant you needed typewriters, 
correction fluid, and walls of file cabi- 
nets. People wrote in ledgers by hand 
and filed them in large books; they 
typed documents on electric typewriters 
and stored them in file cabinet drawers. 
With the proliferation of personal 
computers in the workplace and then 
in the home, users became accustomed 
to brand-new ways of creating and 
storing information. But you may have 
wondered exactly how computers work 
to accomplish many of the tasks we 
used to do by hand. So let's take a look 
at how computers handle data, and put 
a magnifying glass on the concepts of 
OSes (operating systems) and files. 



The Grand Illusion 

For most, working with computers 
involves interacting with a Windows in- 
terface: using a mouse to click icons, file 
names, and links that are understood to 
represent programs, files, and Web 
pages; using a keyboard to type infor- 
mation; and inserting and removing 
storage media such as floppy diskettes 
and CDs. The computer, on the other 
hand, interprets signals from input de- 
vices and performs the associated tasks. 

How computers think. A computer 
doesn't work with words and numbers 
per se; rather, it understands data in 
terms of binary notation, or Os and Is. 
Every word, number, image, and 
sound is represented within the com- 
puter by Os and Is. This binary form 



for representing data is usually referred 
to as machine language. 

But with the hundreds of Os and Is 
required to make the simplest of tasks 
computer-readable, early programmers 
began developing programming lan- 
guages, which look a little more like 
human-comprehensible language. In 
any file, the data that programmers see 
and use is called source code, which is 
written using a particular program- 
ming language. A programming lan- 
guage governs how computers will 
understand the source code, and it re- 
quires software (often part of the OS) 
to translate the source code into binary. 

The word bit is short for "binary 
digit" and represents one binary value: 
either or 1. While bits are the founda- 
tion for all digital communication, they 
are too small to use when measuring 
file sizes; that would be similar to 
expressing 1 billion dollars as 100 bil- 
lion pennies. To make things a little 
simpler, we use bytes, or eight consecu- 
tive bits, as a basis for measurement. 
It's easier, for example, to express 1 bil- 
lion bytes as its equivalent: 1 gigabyte. 

How computers handle data. Com- 
puters consist of a number of internal 
components that work together to 
process, store, and retrieve data. A PC's 
motherboard (called a mobo in slang) 
is a circuit board that contains all of the 
hardware required for performing 
most data processing tasks. 

The BIOS (Basic Input/Output Sys- 
tem) occupies an inconspicuous por- 
tion of the motherboard, but it is 
responsible for getting the computer 
up and running and serves as the inter- 
mediary between the computer's parts 
and its OS. The BIOS is a collection of 
software codes that contains the com- 
puter's startup routines, so when you 
push the On button, the BIOS is the 
first piece of software to see action. (See 
"How Creating & Saving Data Works" 
on pages 10 and 11 for a graphic de- 
scription of how this works.) 

The BIOS is sometimes referred to as 
BIOS ROM (for read-only memory) 
or, shortening the name further, ROM, 
because in most PCs, its software codes 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 7 



^ Organizing Data 



were originally part of its permanent 
(read-only) memory. In most com- 
puters today the BIOS uses flash 
memory, which was developed by Intel 
and lets the chip be upgraded. Before 
flash memory came along, upgrading 
the BIOS meant installing a new chip. 

The BIOS is also responsible for 
some of the basic communications that 
occur within the computer, including 
those between the main processor and 
devices such as keyboards, displays, 
and hard drives. However, the quantity 
of code required to manage these de- 
vices is too large to be stored directly in 
the BIOS. If this were the case, the 
BIOS would contain every operational 
command for every device connected 
to the computer. 

This is where drivers come into play; 
in effect, drivers are extensions of the 
BIOS. For example, when the BIOS 
verifies the existence and settings of a 
display during startup, it consults the 
display's drivers (which are located on 
the hard drive) and learns all the in- 
structions required to use the associ- 
ated devices. Highly essential drivers, 
such as those for keyboards and dis- 
plays, typically come with the com- 
puter. Drivers for other peripherals, 
such as optical storage drives and video 
cards, are often included in the soft- 
ware bundled with the device itself. 

The CPU (central processing unit), 
sometimes referred to as a micro- 
processor or processor, takes center 
stage on the motherboard. The CPU is 
essentially the computer's "brain" and 
contains millions of tiny transistors 
and capacitors that act as switches to 
interpret and carry out instructions. 
The clock speed is the rate at which the 
CPU carries out these instructions. 
Each instruction requires a certain 
number of clock ticks, or cycles, and 
therefore CPU speeds are measured in 
hertz, or cycles per second. Most CPUs 
today are so fast that they are measured 
in gigahertz, or billions of cycles per 
second; so a 3GHz processor runs at a 
speed of 3 billion cycles per second. 

A computer's capabilities are also 
measured in terms of how much RAM 



00100010 01010100 01101000 01010100 

00100111 01110011 00100000 01110011 

01100101 00100000 01110011 00100000 

01101100 01101100 00100000 01101100 

01100101 01100000 01100010 01110000 

01110010 00100000 01110001 00100000 



The binary system is made up of Os and 1s. 
Computers recognize and manipulate data in 
this binary, or digital, form. 

(random-access memory), or main 
memory, it has. As its moniker implies, 
a RAM chip contains data that can be 
accessed randomly, and therefore 
rapidly. While there are different types 
of RAM (and indeed, many different 
types of memory apart from RAM), the 
way RAM works remains the same. 

Like CPUs, RAM chips consist of 
tiny transistors and capacitors. RAM 
doesn't store data (when the computer 
is turned off, its RAM is actually 
empty) but is called into action to pro- 
vide elbowroom for processing tasks. 
The bigger the amount of RAM, the 
better able the computer will be to 
multitask, or process multiple tasks at 
once. Most new PCs have 256MB or 
more of RAM. 

The ringmaster for the whole show is 
the OS, which is software that controls 
the computer and its peripherals. 
Without an OS, none of the compo- 
nents we've looked at so far would 
know what to do with each other. The 
major OSes in use today are Windows, 
MacOS, and Linux. 

After you turn on your computer and 
the CPU accesses the BIOS to begin the 
startup process, the CPU must initialize 
the OS and receive instructions from it 
before moving on. From here on out, 
the OS plays a part in everything, in- 
cluding recognizing input from a key- 
board or mouse, monitoring drive 
space and software activity, and con- 
trolling how software interacts with 
printers and other hardware. 

The Secret Lives Of Files 

If you think of a PC as a beehive, 
with the CPU and RAM collectively 
making up the queen bee, you can 
think of program files as worker bees 



and data files as the materials the 
worker bees need to make honey. In 
other words, program files contain the 
data required to perform the actions, 
and data files contain just about every- 
thing else, including the information 
program files need to work properly. 

Files are collections of data created 
(primarily by programmers) to serve 
specific purposes. When viewing a list 
of files in Windows Explorer, we see file 
names, which are arbitrary names used 
to identify, or sometimes even describe, 
the file. By right- clicking a particular file 
and selecting Properties, you can find 
out more about the file, including its 
file type. Earlier, we discussed drivers; 
drivers can have any file name imagin- 
able, but they are all of the "driver" type 
and often have the extension .DRV. 

File extensions typically appear as a 
period and three characters following 
the file name. File extensions are gov- 
erned by accepted conventions and are 
intended to identify the file type, which 
may give an indication as to the pro- 
gram that uses the file. However, when 
you rename a file, you can actually re- 
name the extension as well, although a 
file with a renamed extension usually 
won't work as expected. This just 
shows how loose the process for as- 
signing extensions to files is. For more 
information about file types and exten- 
sions, see "Identify File Types" on 
page 190. 

Executable files. Program files, also 
known as application files or exe- 
cutable files, are so named because they 
contain the routines necessary to exe- 
cute, or run, a program. Executable 
files have an .EXE file extension and are 
therefore often referred to as EXE files. 
Although executable files are essential 
for running a program, they don't nec- 
essarily contain all the information 
needed to successfully use the program. 
This is where data files come in. There 
are hundreds of different data file 
types, many of which are created for a 
specific program or OS. 

Runtime libraries. Runtime libraries 
are good examples of how executable 
files are often dependent on other files 



8 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Q Organizing Data 



to run programs correctly. Although a 
library can be any collection of files, 
programs, routines, or functions, a 
runtime library contains executable 
subroutines that are not included in the 
executable file itself. 

Programmers sometimes break rou- 
tines out from executable files and 
place them in runtime libraries to save 
on memory when the associated pro- 
gram is running, because executable 
files only call on runtime libraries as 
needed. Other benefits of runtime li- 
braries are that they can be used by one 
or more programs, and they can reduce 
the amount of hard drive space re- 
quired to store executable files. 

How this works is similar to how 
"see also" references work in an ency- 
clopedia. Let's say there is an entry for 
"cat" that describes everything com- 
mon to all breeds of cat, and there is 
also a separate block of data about each 
breed. If all of that information were 
included under the "cat" entry, and if 
everything in the "cat" entry were also 
included in the entry for each breed, 
the encyclopedia would grow thicker 
and thicker. To prevent this, the editors 
include "see also" references so that the 
entry for each breed refers to the main 
"cat" entry, which in turn refers to sep- 
arate entries for each breed. 

Instead of "see also" references, exe- 
cutable files have stubs, or dummy 
routines used to refer to runtime li- 
braries in separate files. An extremely 
common runtime library is the DLL 
(dynamic-link library) file, which con- 
tains executable subroutines that can 
be used by one or more Windows pro- 
gram. Often referred to as a DLL file, it 
can have file name extensions other 
than .DLL, such as .DRV and .FON. 
When running an executable file, one 
of its many routines might include a 
stub, which searches for the associated 
DLL file and then runs the subroutine 
in that file. If the DLL file is not in its 
correct location, an error occurs. 

System files. Short for operating 
system files, system files are used by an 
OS to perform all of its tasks. System 
files are essential for the OS to run 




Since the release of Windows 98, Windows 
provides a cautionary note like this one when 
you try to access its system files. 







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File m View Insert ftgmeS 


Help 




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The System File Protection utility in Windows 
Me and XP protects designated system files 
from harm. To see which files are protected, 
locate and double-click the Sfpdb.sfp file in 
the WINDOWS\SYSTEM\SFP directory, then 
click Open With, Wordpad, and OK. 

properly, which is why Microsoft wants 
Windows users to exercise caution 
when exploring the directories that 
contain these files. Every Windows OS 
since Windows 98 displays a message 
when you click a system folder, warn- 
ing you that you shouldn't alter or 
move the files within. Beginning with 
Windows Me, Microsoft OSes include 
a System File Protection utility. 

Two system files that are holdovers 
from the DOS era but are still included 
in Windows OSes are the Autoexec.bat 
and Config.sys files. These files aren't 
as noticeable or important in Win- 
dows, especially since the release of 
Win98, but their presence reveals that 
DOS is still alive, despite Microsoft's 
claims that DOS is basically dead. 

In general, a configuration file is a 
text file that includes configuration, or 
setup, information about the associated 
program. Config.sys is a configuration 
file for DOS that contains information 



governing memory usage and hard- 
ware installation, and is consulted at 
startup in DOS or a DOS-based OS. 

Autoexec.bat is the abbreviated file 
name for the automatically executed 
batch file, which includes commands 
that run every time you start up a com- 
puter after the Config.sys file is con- 
sulted. A batch file, itself a relic from 
DOS days, contains a set of instructions 
that are carried out sequentially when 
the file is called upon to run. 

In Windows, the system Registry is a 
database that contains important infor- 
mation about system configuration 
and user preferences. You've probably 
made Registry changes using Windows' 
Control Panel, but you can also make 
them using Regedit.exe, also known as 
Registry Editor. (Click Start and Run 
and then type regedit in the Open field 
and press ENTER.) Always be careful 
when editing your Registry, though; 
changing the wrong setting or making 
the wrong change to the right setting 
can seriously impair your system's 
ability to function properly. 

Other data files. In addition to sys- 
tem files, there are a myriad of data files 
you access and create when you use 
programs. When you use Microsoft 
Word, for example, you're starting 
with a blank document that is based on 
a DOT, or document template, file; 
while you're working on the document, 
the Word program might use an auto- 
matic save function and create BAK, or 
backup, files. When you click Save, you 
create a DOC, or Word document, file. 

The Wonderful World Of Data 

Volumes can be (and have been) 
written about the nature of data and 
the intricacies of files, but we hope that 
after reading this article you have a 
better understanding of how com- 
puters work with data and transform 
data for practical use. For more infor- 
mation about how you can organize 
and store data, see "Organize Files & 
Folders" on page 12. \n\ 

by Cal Clinchard 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 9 







How Creating & 
Saving Data Works 

Between turning on your computer, opening a program, creating a new file, entering information into 
it, and finally saving and closing that file, data has traveled through many different parts of the 
system. Here is an overview of how the computer's CPU (central processing unit), RAM (random-access 
memory), and hard drive work together along with other components to help you create and save a file. 






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When you press the On button, the computer acts like you might imagine Rip Van 
Winkle would after waking up from a long sleep. Whether it has been shut off for a 



minute or a month, the computer has to boot up. 

2 An electrical charge goes from the power supply to the CPU, which is essentially 
the computer's "brain." The CPU clears stray data from its memory registers and 
begins processing the first of many instructions needed to start up the computer. 

3 The CPU consults the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) for essential startup and 
hardware information and performs a POST (power on self test) to make sure all 
components are in their correct place and functioning properly. 

4 To create a new Word document, the CPU accesses the Winword.exe program 
file on the hard drive to run the program. This provides you with a blank Word 
document, which is based on a template stored elsewhere on the hard drive. 




5 The data associated with the new 
Word document travels from the 
CPU into RAM. 

As you type information into the docu- 
ment, the new data is held in RAM until 
you save the document. If the computer 
locks up or loses power now, all of the data 
entered up to this point will be lost. 

6 While you work on the document, the 
CPU and RAM constantly exchange 
data with the display via the computer's 
video card. Along the way, the frame buffer 
portion of memory gathers data and com- 
piles it into a single image before it is dis- 
played. The computer's RAM includes 
some memory allocated specifically for the 
display, but in most computers video 
memory resides directly on the video card. 

7 When you save the document, the as- 
sociated data is transferred to the 
hard drive. Or, if you're using a different 
type of storage media such as CD-R (CD- 
recordable), the RAM ignores the hard 
drive and saves data directly to that 
media. The current document will also re- 
main in RAM until you close the program. 

8 As soon as you close the Word pro- 
gram, all of the data associated with 
that program clears out of RAM, leaving 
more room for running other programs. 



I 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 11 



^ Organizing Data 



Organize Files 
& Folders 

Put Everything In Its Place 




Learning about computer files and 
folders is like learning about fi- 
nance for the first time. Interest 
rates, investments, and taxes can be in- 
credibly dull topics, at least until they 
apply to your own money. 

The best way to keep this discussion 
on files and folders interesting is to try 
to imagine your own digital photos, 
music tracks, and personal documents 
in place of our examples. We'll talk 
about how your files are stored in 
Windows 95/98/Me/XP and intelligent 
ways to organize them. And that's re- 
ally what a personal computer is all 
about: organizing your stuff so it's easy 
to find and easy to use. 

Hierarchical Storage Concepts 

Think about what would happen if 
you just kept all your important papers 
in a pile on the floor. As you received 
letters, bills, and paychecks, you would 
simply add them to the pile. This might 



be OK for a week or two — if your 
spouse or roommate didn't revolt, 
that is. The problem is that if you 
really needed to find something 
quickly, such as last week's in- 
surance premium statement, 
you would waste a tremendous 
amount of time digging through 
the pile. The same mess ensues 
when you save all your computer 
files in the same area on your hard 
drive. Eventually, you will have to 
look through scads of unrelated files 
just to find the one you want. 

If we had to organize the pile of pa- 
pers in our example, we would pick up 
a file cabinet or two and a supply of file 
cabinet folders that we could label 
from the office supply store. Next, we'd 
sit down with the big pile of documents 
and sort it into many smaller piles, 
such as bills, bank statements, and let- 
ters. Finally, we would label a folder for 
each of these smaller piles, fill it, and 
file it in the cabinet. 

It may take a while to do all this, 
but it's much more organized than a 
sprawling pile on the floor. The best 
part about it is that if we have to locate 
last month's credit card statement 
while we're on the phone with a cus- 
tomer service representative, it should 
take a minute instead of an afternoon. 

Computer operating systems such as 
Windows use a similar concept to store 
files on hard drives and other storage 
media. It's called a hierarchical storage 
system because of its hierarchy of di- 
rectories. Directories are groups of files 
and often subdirectories that hold still 
more files and subdirectories. Certain 
directories may be called drives (for 



storage devices or parts of them) or 
folders (subdirectories of drives). As an 
example, a document called Testdoc.txt 
might have this file path: 
C:\MY DOCUMENTS\Testdoc.txt 

This means that Testdoc.txt is "in" or 
"under" the My Documents folder, 
which is on the hard drive partition (di- 
vision of the drive's total storage space) 
labeled C:. If there were too many doc- 
uments in the My Documents folder, 
we could make new subfolders inside it, 
such as Work Docs or Personal Docs. If 
we moved Testdoc.txt into Work Docs, 
its new file path would be: 

C:\MY DOCUMENTSYWORK 
DOCS\Testdoc.txt 

Just for fun, let's be complete nerds 
and come up with a hypothetical file 
path for the credit card statement we 
mentioned above. There's no real 
reason to do so except to help cement 
the concept of hierarchical storage in 
your mind. Here goes: 

BEIGE FILE CABINET\CREDIT 
CARD FOLDER\Statement Oct 2001 

If we had to divide the credit card 
folder later into MasterCard and Visa 
subfolders, we would have: 

BEIGE FILE CABINET\CREDIT 
CARD FOLDER\MASTERCARD\ 
Statement Oct 2001 

Now that you understand why it's 
good to organize your files, we'll show 
you how to actually do it. 

Exploring 

The easiest way to grasp Windows' 
file storage hierarchy is to play around 
with Windows Explorer (not to be 
confused with Internet Explorer). 
Right-click Start and click Explore. 

The left panel in Windows Explorer 
shows things near the top of the hier- 
archy, such as the Desktop, hard 
drive(s), and folders. The right panel 
shows the folders and/or files stored 
in the drive or folder highlighted in 
the left panel. 



12 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



g) Organizing Data 



The (Dis)organized PC 



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The screen shot on the left is a great example of how not to store your files. We've been saving every file in My Documents out of convenience, but it's 
not so convenient when we need to find something in a hurry. In the screen shot on the right, we've cleaned up our act. We made several new folders 
for different types of files and moved our files into them. We also discovered that we had so many personal documents about cars that we decided to 
make a Car subfolder in the Personal Docs folder. This is the most basic level of organization you should go for. 



There's a scroll bar on the right side 
of each panel. Click its black arrow but- 
tons to scroll up or down the list, or 



click and drag the scroll bar in either 
direction. Click any folder or drive in 
the left panel once to highlight it, and 



the right panel will display its contents. 
If you don't like the right panel's looks, 
click the View menu near the top of the 
screen. Next, click List or Details for file 



If s All In The Name 1 


information; Large Icons or Small 
Icons in Win95/98/Me; Thumbnails in 








WinMe/XP; or Icons or Tiles (WinXP). 


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enough to let Windows 


file extension. No 


Near the top of the left panel, under 


know which applica- 


spaces were allowed in 


Desktop and My Computer, is an entry 


how Windows 95/98/ 


tion to use to open the 


eight-dot-three file 


labeled C:. This represents part or all of 


Me/XP files are named, 


document. Be careful 


names, but you could 


your primary hard drive. Click the plus 


so let's explore it a little 


not to change the file 


have used underscores, 


sign (+) or minus sign (-) to its left a 


more. Say a typical file 


extension as you re- 


as in Salejan.doc. 


few times. This will either show you the 


name is Sales January 


name a file, or you may 


You can still manip- 


folders in the C: directory (called ex- 


2002.doc. The file is 


make the file unusable 


ulate Win95/98/Me/XP 


panding the branch, or displaying that 


called Sales January 


until you change the 


files in DOS and Win3.x, 


level of the hierarchy) or hide them 


2002. The three- or 


extension back. 


although their related 


(called collapsing the branch). 


four-letter file exten- 


Sales January 


applications may not 


If you were looking for the C:\MY 


sion, .DOC, tells Win- 


2002.doc is a simple, 


run. DOS and Win3.x 


DOCUMENTS\Testdoc.txt document 


dows that Sales January 


descriptive name for a 


will simply truncate the 


we discussed in the last section, you 


2002 is a Microsoft 


file. However, it's too 


file name with a tilde 


would expand the C: branch. Next, you 


Word document. A pe- 


long for Windows 3.x 


(~) and a number, and 


would do the same with the box next to 


riod separates the file 


or MS-DOS. Before 


without spaces. Sales 


the My Documents folder. Now click 


name and extension. 


Win95, file names were 


January 2002.doc will 


the My Documents entry to highlight 


The .DOC file exten- 


limited by the eight- 


become Salesj~1.doc. 


it, and the right panel will show the 


sion isn't specific 


dot-three naming con- 


Win95/98/Me's file 


folder's contents. 


enough to tell Win- 


vention. This is simply 


names can have as 


Creating files and folders. There 


dows what version of 


an eight-letter file name 


many as 255 characters, 


should not be a real text document in 


Word made the docu- 


in front of the custom- 


but none of these: <, >, 


your My Documents folder called 


ment, but at least it's 


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Testdoc.txt, so let's make one. With My 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 13 



^ Organizing Data 



Documents highlighted, click the File 
menu near the top of the screen. Now 
click New and Text Document. A new 
document will appear in My Doc- 
uments in the right panel, with its name 
ready for you to edit. Type Testdoc.txt 
and press ENTER. To open Testdoc.txt 
(or nearly any other file), double-click 
it. It will be a blank Notepad document. 
Close Notepad by clicking the X button 
in the upper-right corner of its window. 

Next, we'll make the two subfolders 
from our earlier example. Click File 
and New again. This time, however, 
click Folder instead of Text Document. 
A new folder will materialize in My 
Documents. Type Work Docs as its 
name and then press ENTER. Repeat 
the procedure, but this time name the 
folder Personal Docs. If you goof while 
naming Testdoc.txt or either folder, 
don't panic. Right-click the misspelled 
file or folder. A context menu will ap- 
pear. Click Rename, type the corrected 
file name, and press ENTER. 

Moving. Now that you've made a file 
and some folders, let's talk about how 
to move them around. The simplest 
way is to click and drag them from one 
place on your system to another. In the 
right panel, click-and-drag Testdoc.txt 
into the Work Docs folder, letting go of 
the button to "drop" the file into the 
folder. Double-click Work Docs to 
open the folder, so you can make sure 
Testdoc.txt is inside. 

You can click and drag individual 
files or entire folders (along with all of 
their subfolders and files) from one 
place to another, from the right panel 
to the left and vice versa. Clicking and 
dragging a file from one part of the 
hard drive to another, such as from 
C:\MY DOCUMENTS to C:\MULTI- 
MEDIA FILES, will move it. However, 
if you drag a file to a removable 
storage drive, such as the A: directory 
(the 3.5-inch diskette drive), assuming 
a diskette with enough room is in- 
serted, Windows will copy the file to it. 
There will still be an identical version 
of the file in the original directory. 

The ability to click and drag files cer- 
tainly beats the old method of typing 







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To make a new folder in Windows Explorer, 
click File, New, and Folder. The new folder will 
appear in the right panel. Type a name for it 
and press ENTER. This is Windows XP's 
Thumbnails view. (Click View, Thumbnails.) 

long XCOPY commands with file paths 
in MS-DOS. However, it can still be 
tricky for new users. It's easy to acci- 
dentally let up the mouse button over 
the wrong folder, dropping a file in the 
wrong place. Sometimes it's safer to 
right-click the file, choose Cut or Copy, 
and then right- click the target folder 
and choose Paste. Cut will completely 
move the file, while Copy will make a 
copy of it in the new location. 

Before you engage in a file-moving 
frenzy, we have one word of caution. 
Don't move things out of the Windows 
or Program Files folders or any files 
that are part of an application. At best, 
you could disable an application. At 
worst, Windows may no longer work 
so well, if at all. If you're new to com- 
puting, stick to moving your personal 
documents around for now. 

Organizing 

You have all the pieces; now it's time 
to put together the puzzle. We've 
talked about how files and folders work 
in a hierarchy for the sole purpose of 
making it easy for you to find them. 
Next, we discussed how to create and 
name folders and move files into or out 
of them. The point is to empower you 
to arrange your folders in a way that 
makes sense to you. 

Files of a feather. This one may seem 
obvious, but it's smart to save your files 
in different folders according to some 
sort of plan. Applications ask you to 



name the files and documents you 
create before you save them for the first 
time. They also let you choose the 
folder in which to save them. Choose 
an appropriate folder instead of the de- 
fault location, which is often C:\MY 
DOCUMENTS in Win95/98/Me and 
C:\DOCUMENTS AND SETTINGS\ 
[your username]\MY DOCUMENTS 
in WinXP. My Documents is conve- 
nient, but if you dump all of your files 
there willy-nilly, it will eventually be- 
come as big a mess as that pile of mail 
we talked about earlier. 

One alternative is to save your files 
according to the applications you used 
to create them. For example, you might 
save all of your PowerPoint presenta- 
tions in a new folder in My Documents 
named Powerpoint Stuff. Organizing 
your files by application can pay off 
when you really, really need to find 
your latest presentation before a sur- 
prise meeting, for instance. 

Another school of thought advocates 
saving files by type. For example, you 
may save all of your digital photos in a 
My Documents folder called My Pic- 
tures and all of your MP3 files in an- 
other named My Music. The advantage 
to saving files by type — not by applica- 
tion — is that it's an agnostic method. It 
doesn't matter if your research paper is 
in DOC (Microsoft Word), RTF (Rich 
Text Format), or TXT (text) format, or 
whether you wrote it using OpenOf- 
fice.org, Word, or Volkswriter. If it's a 
paper you wrote, it will be in the My 
Papers folder you created. 

You'll probably use both methods 
as you organize your PC's files and 
folders. For example, saving by appli- 
cation is great if you only use one 
program to make a certain kind of 
file. But if you use several similar pro- 
grams to make a different kind of file, 
a folder containing files by type is the 
way to go. 

Separate partitions. This is a tricky 
concept, but it's important enough 
to include here. Many hard drives are 
partitioned, or set up to have more 
than one drive letter (directory). For 
example, a single hard drive may 



14 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Q Organizing Data 



have the drive letters C:, D:, and E:, 
even though the only differences 
among the partitions involve which 
areas of the drive's magnetic hard 
disks they correspond to. A file 
stored in C:\MY DOCUMENTS may 
be on the same physical hard drive as 
a file in D:\HARDWARE DRIVERS, 
but Windows treats them as if they're 
on entirely different drives. Users 
often call partitions "drives," as in 
"the E: drive." 

The point of all this is that it's a 
good idea to have your operating 
system (such as Windows) on one 
partition, your applications (such as 
Word) on another, and your saved 
data and documents on a third. If 
something goes very wrong and you 
have to reinstall Windows, at least it 
will cause minimal disruption to the 
applications on another partition; 
you'll still have to reinstall your apps 
to get Windows to recognize them, 
but at least their settings files may not 
be overwritten. The same goes for the 
data you store on the third partition 
in the event that you have to reinstall 
an application. Better still, keeping all 
your data on the third partition (the 



File & Folder Tips 



E: drive in our scenario) makes it 
easy to find it when you back it up to 
tape or optical disc. 

To separate Windows, your apps, 
and your data, remember this simple 
trick. Whenever you install a program 
and it asks you where it should install 
itself, change the first letter of the file 
path from "C:" to "D:". For example, if 
the program wants to install itself in 
C:\PROGRAM FILES\DANTZ, change 
it to D:\PROGRAM FILES\DANTZ. 
Save the personal files you make in ap- 
propriate folders on the E: drive in the 
same fashion. 

If your hard drive doesn't have three 
partitions, we recommend software 
such as Norton Partition Magic ($69.95; 
www.symantec.com) or Partition Com- 
mander ($49.99; www.v-com.com). 
These are superior to the FDISK utility 
in DOS and on Windows boot disks 
because they can partition your drive 
without erasing all its data, including 
Windows. If your hard drive is 2GB or 
smaller, you may not want to bother 
with partitioning it. Partition Com- 
mander supports Win95 through 
WinXP, but Partition Magic requires at 
least Win95b or later. 



One of the nice 
things about 
Windows 95/98/Me/XP 
is that there are usually 
several ways to do the 
same thing. The fol- 
lowing tips can help you 
master your files and 
folders your way. 

• Is your mouse arm 
getting tired? Try 
these shortcut key- 
strokes. To rename a 
highlighted file or 
folder, press F2. Type 
a name and then 
press ENTER. Some 
other keystrokes are 
CTRL-X (CTRL and X 



at the same time) to 
Cut, CTRL-C to Copy, 
and CTRL-V to Paste. 

Windows Explorer 
has an Up button 
near the top of its 
window. Click it to 
move from the high- 
lighted folder to the 
next one above it. 

Most recent applica- 
tions have Create 
New Folder buttons 
near the tops of their 
Save As windows. 
(Click File and Save 
As to save a docu- 
ment for the first 



time.) A Create New 
Folder button lets 
you make an appro- 
priate folder if you're 
ready to save a docu- 
ment that just 
doesn't belong in 
your existing folders. 

If you save or move a 
file to the Desktop, 
you'll see it as an icon 
when the Desktop is 
visible. Don't be 
tempted to leave 
many files there, 
though. They clutter 
your screen and tie 
up system resources, 
such as memory. 



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This screen shot of Windows for Workgroups 
3.1 1's File Manager shows how pre-Windows 
95 Microsoft operating systems truncate long 
file names. The original files were called 
Biometrics.bmp, HankLogo120.bmp, 
SnoopyTyping.bmp, and No6 In Lotus.gif. 

Archiving old applications. With 
hard drives getting so cheap — as low as 
$87 for 80GB, as this is written — users 
are suddenly likely to have much more 
data storage space than they know what 
to do with. Some users with libraries of 
old software may want to copy those 
aging diskettes to their hard drives. 
After all, hard drives can be more stable 
than floppy diskettes for long-term 
data storage. Furthermore, with a CD- 
RW (CD-rewriteable) or recordable 
DVD drive, users can burn (write) 
those old apps to inexpensive and long- 
lasting discs using the hard drive as a 
temporary staging area. 

If you decide to preserve digital ar- 
cana this way, here's a hint. Create a 
different folder for each old program, 
such as E:\OLD APPSVWORDPER 
FECT 5.1. Next, create a separate folder 
inside the application's folder for each 
diskette, such as DISK 1, DISK 2, and 
so on. "Why bother?" you may ask. It's 
because many old programs expect to 
install from the A: diskette drive and 
may be too dumb to install from any 
other media. If you ever need to install 
an old program for whatever reason, 
first copy it to diskette(s) from the CD, 
DVD, or hard drive. 

If you have a ton of old programs you 
feel are worth keeping, make alphabet- 
ical folders such as A, B, Numerical, 
and so on. Move the application folders 
into the correct alphabetical folders to 
keep things straight. H 

by Marty Sems 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 15 



^ Organizing Data 



Organize 
Your Desktop 

Arrange Your Icons & Taskbar 



Many of us have a hodgepodge 
of seemingly unrelated icons, 
or shortcuts, all over our Win- 
dows 9x/Me/XP Desktops and Task- 
bars. Get a handle on your icons now, 
so you won't waste time looking for 
them when you're in a hurry. 

Icons 

You can move an icon around the 
Desktop by left-clicking it, holding 
down the button as you move the 
mouse, and releasing the button to 
"drop" the icon where you want it. If it 
snaps back to another place, right-click 
a blank area on your Desktop and 
choose Arrange Icons (Win95/98/Me) 
or Arrange Icons By (WinXP). If there 
is a check mark next to Auto Arrange, 
click it to uncheck it. 

Now you can organize your icons 
the way you want them. Try grouping 
the icons of the programs you use 
most in one area of the screen, short- 
cuts to important folders such as My 
Documents in another area, and 




other icons according to their types 
of applications. 

If you don't mind having your icons 
lumped into the left side of the screen, 
you can tell Windows to group them 
by some criterion. In Win9x/Me, 
right-click the Desktop, click Arrange 
Icons, and choose among By Name, By 
Size, By Type, and By Date. By Type 
sorts icons by their Properties menus' 
descriptions, such as Applications, File 
Folders, or Shortcuts. By Date sorts 
icons in descending order by the dates 
their targets (whether applications, 
files, or folders) were last modified. In 
WinXP, the nomenclature is a little 
different, but the results are similar. 
Right-click the Desktop, click Arrange 
Icons By, and choose among Name, 
Size, Type, or Modified. 

You can delete a Desktop icon, but 
first make sure you can still access its 
target through the Start menu or 
Windows Explorer. If so, right- click the 
icon and choose Delete. To rename an 
icon, choose Rename from the same 
context menu. Type in the new name 
and press ENTER. 
When you're done ar- 
ranging, right-click the 
Desktop and choose 
Line Up Icons (in 
Win9x/Me) or Arrange 
Icons By and Align To 
Grid (in WinXP) to 
straighten things up. 

If you want Win- 
dows to organize your 
icons for you, use Auto 
Arrange. Right-click 
the Desktop and select 
Arrange Icons (By). If 
there's no check mark 



next to Auto Arrange, click it. If you 
check (By) Date with Auto Arrange en- 
abled, you'll always be able to find the 
program you used last toward the 
upper-left corner of the Desktop. 

WinXP also has a wizard to help 
clear away unused icons. Right-click 
the Desktop, click Arrange Icons By, 
and click Run Desktop Cleanup Wiz- 
ard. Follow the on-screen instruc- 
tions to place little-used icons in a 
new folder called Unused Desktop 
Icons. To set the Wizard to run on its 
own every 60 days, right-click the 
Desktop and click Properties, the 
Desktop tab, and Customize Desk- 
top. Select the Run Desktop Cleanup 
Wizard Every 60 Days option and 
then click OK, Apply, and OK. 

Taskbar 

The Windows Taskbar usually holds 
the Start button, buttons for open pro- 
grams, and a clock. Other icons in the 
System Tray near the clock represent 
apps running "in the background." 

Right-click an empty part of the 
Taskbar and choose Properties. One 
useful setting here is Always On Top in 
Win9x/Me (called Keep The Task- 
bar On Top Of Other Windows in 
WinXP), which keeps the Taskbar vis- 
ible when you drag windows down to 
its level. Another is Auto Hide (Auto- 
Hide The Taskbar in WinXP), which 
keeps the Taskbar hidden at the 
bottom of the screen until you move 
the pointer down to it. Click either op- 
tion to check or uncheck its box. 

If you want to move the Taskbar, 
click and drag it to either side or the 
top of the screen. If you can't move the 
Taskbar in WinXP, right-click it and 
uncheck Lock The Taskbar. 

Win98/Me/XP offer more Taskbar 
customization choices. Right-click an 
empty part of the Taskbar and select 
Toolbars. These let you add functions 
to your Taskbar. For instance, Quick 
Launch lets you drag big Desktop icons 
down to it to become smaller ones. H 

by Marty Sems 



16 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



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^ Organizing Data 



A Whole 
NewOuUook 

Learn How To Organize Your Email Messages 




Ask a new computer user why he 
or she wanted to buy a com- 
puter in the first place. Chances 
are, one of the reasons will be, "I 
wanted to use email." 

Email, or electronic mail, has be- 
come a very important mode of com- 
munication. It's like sending letters 
faster than using the telephone. Unfor- 
tunately, all those email messages add 
up quickly. Without a little organiza- 
tion, your inbox (the folder that holds 
the email you receive) could start to re- 
semble the market report in the paper. 

This issue of the Reference Series is 
about working with PC files, but email 
messages have become just as impor- 
tant to most users. We'll concentrate in 
this article on how to organize your 
email. We'll also tell you how to find a 
particular message when your Inbox 
runneth over. Finally, we'll give you 
some tips on how to automatically 



redirect individual email mes- 
sages to folders you create or 
even to other email addresses. 

| Organization 

Microsoft Outlook Express 6 
is an email client that comes 
with Windows XP Home. A 
client is an application that 
connects to a server com- 
puter over the Internet or a 
network, such as the mail 
(email) server at your ISP (In- 
ternet service provider). We'll use 
this version of Outlook Express for 
the examples in this article. Outlook, 
which is available in Microsoft Office, 
and earlier versions of Outlook Express 
may vary a little from our examples. 

The Inbox is the folder in which 
you'll probably spend most of your 
time. Click Inbox in the Folders panel 
on the left side of the screen to see 
its contents. The Inbox lists all the 
messages you've received from other 
email users, except for the ones you've 
deleted. And deleting messages, espe- 
cially spam (bulk commercial email 
you didn't sign up to receive), is essen- 
tial in keeping your Inbox messages 
manageable. To do this, right-click a 
message and select Delete. 

If you accidentally delete an impor- 
tant message, click the Deleted Items 
folder on the left. Find the message 
you want to keep, then click and drag 
it up to the Inbox. In other words, 
click the message and hold down the 
mouse button until you've moved the 
mouse pointer over the Inbox folder. 
Then let up the button. 



Use the same click-and-drag tech- 
nique to move messages from the 
Inbox to other folders. Message mov- 
ing is a fundamental tool for orga- 
nizing your Inbox, as it lets you keep 
your business email separate from your 
personal email, and so on. All you need 
to do is to create some new folders that 
make sense for your situation. 

To create a new folder, right-click 
the Local Folders directory in the 
Folders panel. Choose New Folder. 
Type a name for your new folder 
in the Folder Name blank, such as 
Personal, Home Business, or Items 
With Attachments, for example. Make 
sure the Local Folders directory is 
highlighted in the panel below and 
click it if it isn't. Finally, click OK. 
Your new folder will appear in the 
Folders panel on the left. 

If you would rather make the new 
folder a sub folder of your Inbox, click 
and drag the new folder to the Inbox 
listing after you make it. You also can 
highlight the Inbox instead of the 
Local Folders directory while you're 
creating the new folder, if you prefer. 
If the new folder doesn't appear in the 
Folders panel after you move it to the 
Inbox, you'll see a box next to the 
Inbox with a plus sign in it. Click that 
box to show the folders inside the 
Inbox. You can click it again to hide 
them, but leave them visible for now. 

Once you've made one new folder, 
or several, you can click and drag ap- 
propriate messages into each one. For 
example, if you primarily use your 
computer for business, but you occa- 
sionally get personal email, you can 
move messages from your family 
and friends into a new folder labeled 
Personal. Just a couple of new folders 
with well-chosen titles can really help 
you cut through the clutter in your 
Inbox and work more efficiently. 

Find Messages 

When you haven't been using email 
long, you probably won't have any 
trouble finding a particular message 
in the short list of email lying in your 



18 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Q Organizing Data 



Inbox. But give it time. A few weeks or 
months from now, you may have accu- 
mulated quite a pile of mail. It's not 
unheard of for naturally messy individ- 
uals, such as magazine writers, to have 
ten thousand or more messages to sift 
through. Don't let this happen to you. 

Even if you're diligent about sorting 
your email into folders and deleting 
the messages you don't want, you still 
may have difficulty finding that 
important message from a business 
partner or your spouse's birthday pre- 
sent wish list. The tempting way to 
look for it is to scroll through your 
messages from the day or week it 
arrived. By default, Outlook Express 
lists your messages with the most 
recent ones on top, so they're in 
chronological order. 

A much faster way to search is to 
sort your email by the names of its 
senders. Simply click the From col- 
umn heading above your messages, 
and Outlook will arrange your mes- 
sages alphabetically by the senders' 
names. Email from a particular sender 
will be listed chronologically with the 
most recent on top, but you can re- 
verse the messages so the most recent 
is on the bottom by clicking the From 
column heading again. 

Try clicking other column headings, 
such as Subject or the Attachment 
heading (represented by a paper clip 
symbol), to see how these sort your 
messages. If you're looking for a photo 
someone emailed you, for example, 
click Attachment to see all the mes- 
sages with attached files at the top of 
the list. To re-sort your messages in 
chronological order, click the Received 
column heading. 

If you want to see more informa- 
tion about your messages, add more 
columns to your Inbox. Right-click 
any column heading, then select 
Columns. Click the checkbox of 
a heading or two, such as Size (which 
shows how large the message is in 
kilobytes). If you want to change the 
order of your columns, highlight 
them on the left and click Move Up 
or Move Down on the right. Click OK 




Can't find a particular message? Click the From 
or Subject column headings to sort your 
messages by sender or subject. 

when you're done or click Reset to go 
back to the way things were. You may 
have to scroll your Inbox to the right 
to see the columns you add, but you 
also can click and drag the column 
headings' edges to the left to make 
them thinner. 

Advanced Tips 

Actually, you don't need to click 
and drag your new email into the 
folders you've made because Outlook 
Express can do it for you (POP3 [Post 
Office Protocol 3] email accounts 
only). Click the Tools menu, then 
Message Rules and Mail. Click New if 
necessary to bring up the New Mail 
Rule dialog box. 

In the top list, choose a condition, 
or trigger, for your rule, such as 
Where The Message Has An Attach- 
ment. Next, select an action, or what 
Outlook should do when the condi- 
tion is met, such as Move It To The 
Specified Folder. Note that you can 





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You can make Outlook Express automatically 
forward certain types of messages to different 
folders or email addresses. 



automatically forward messages to an- 
other email address by choosing the 
Forward It To People action. You also 
can choose several conditions and ac- 
tions for more specific rules. 

Next, click any blue, underlined 
items in the Rule Description field to 
specify to which folder or people your 
rule should apply. For the above ex- 
ample, highlight the folder where you'd 
like messages with attachments to go 
and click OK. Finally, in the Name Of 
The Rule field at the bottom of the 
New Mail Rule dialog box, type a name 
for your rule, such as Attachments 
to Folder, and click OK. Click Apply 
Now, then Select All (if you made more 
than one rule) and Apply Now again to 
apply your rules right away. 

Outlook Express 6 doesn't empty 
the Deleted Items folder by default 
when you shut it down, but you can 
tell it to do so. Click the Tools menu, 
then Options and the Maintenance 
tab. Click the box next to the entry la- 
beled Empty Messages From The 
'Deleted Items' Folder On Exit to put 
a check mark into it. Next, click 
Apply and OK. After you've made this 
change, it's very important to be sure 
you'll never want to recover any 
deleted messages before you shut 
Outlook Express down. 

If you have a grasp of copying and 
pasting files in Windows Explorer 
(right-click Start and choose Explore), 
you can make backups of your Inbox 
and other email folders. Search your 
hard drive for *.dbx, which means any 
files with the .DBX file extension. 
Next, copy the most recent versions of 
Inbox.dbx and other folders you want 
to back up to a floppy diskette, CD- 
RW (CD-rewriteable), or some other 
medium that isn't your hard drive. 

For details on Outlook Express's 
more advanced features, click the 
Help menu and browse through its 
topics. It's worth a look because just a 
little organization of your email client 
can really free up your time for more 
important things. S3 

by Marty Sems 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 19 



^ Organizing Data 



Pick Up The 
Crumbs 

Learn To Handle Bookmarks, 
Favorites & Shortcuts 



If your PC is like the majority of PCs 
in our office, it holds an impressive 
and expanding compilation of fa- 
vorite Web sites. Eventually, finding a 
specific Web site among your massive 
collection of links becomes a bit like 
finding your favorite Frank Sinatra 
song among your assortment of unla- 
beled recordable CDs. Your Start menu 
can become just as crowded. We'll 
show you how to reorganize those Web 
sites and your Start menu to make it 
easier to find what you're looking for. 

Firefox/Netscape 

Over the last year, the open-source 
browser Firefox has started eating away 
at the huge market share enjoyed for 
several years by Microsoft's Internet 
Explorer. Because Netscape uses much 
of the same code for its browser, there's 
little difference between Firefox and 
Netscape browsers. At press time the 
most recent versions available were 




Firefox 1.0.2 and Netscape Navigator 
7.2. We also looked at a beta (or early 
test) version of Netscape Browser 8.0 
dated March 8, 2005, for this article. 

Manage Bookmarks. Regardless of 
which browser you use, the best place 
to begin organizing your bookmarks is 
the Manage Bookmarks window. (Click 
Manage Bookmarks in the Bookmarks 
menu.) From here you can organize 
your bookmarks into existing folders 
and make new folders. Bookmarks ap- 
pear nested under each folder, and 
double -clicking a folder lets you show 
or hide the contents of that folder. You 
can organize your bookmarks by drag- 
ging and dropping them into folders. 

A URL (uniform resource locator, or 
Web address) appears beside each 
entry in the Location column. You can 
always edit an entry's name or location 
by right-clicking the item and selecting 
Properties. You can also delete a book- 
mark or folder by selecting the item 
and clicking Delete in the toolbar near 
the top of the window. 

To create a new folder, simply click 
New Folder in the toolbar, choose a 
name, and then drag and drop it where 
you want it. You may also wish to 
create separators to organize your 
folders into groups; click New Sepa- 
rator from the toolbar and drag and 
drop the separator into position. 

Add and file bookmarks. When you 
find a bookmark-worthy Web site, 
click Bookmark This Page in Netscape 
8.0 and Firefox 1.0.2. The Add Book- 
mark dialog box appears. To file the 
bookmark in an appropriate folder, 



click the Create In drop -down list to 
see a list of recently used folders. To see 
a complete folder list, click the down 
button beside the Create In drop-down 
list and select the folder from the list 
that appears or click the New Folder 
button to create a new folder. You can 
also rename the bookmark here if you 
wish. Click OK when you're done. In 
Netscape 7.2 Bookmark This Page 
quickly saves the bookmark without 
placing it in a folder. If you want to file 
the bookmark, click File Bookmark in 
the Bookmarks menu. Select the 
proper folder or click New Folder to 
create a new folder. Click OK to finish. 

The sidebar. There's one final way to 
work with your bookmarks: the side- 
bar. The sidebar normally resides to the 
left of the main window and contains 
various tabs showing all sorts of infor- 
mation, including a list of bookmarks. 
To open the sidebar in Netscape 7.2, 
click View, select Show/Hide, and click 
My Sidebar. In Netscape 8.0 click My 
Sidebar in the View menu. In either 
version you may have to click the Book- 
marks tab in the sidebar. Finally, in 
Firefox 1.0.2 click the View menu, 
Sidebar, and Bookmarks. 

Click a bookmark to jump to its site. 
You can rename or delete a bookmark 
in either browser by right-clicking the 
item and selecting Delete or Rename. 
In Firefox you can delete an item by 
right-clicking it, but to rename an item, 
you'll need to right-click the entry, se- 
lect Properties, and edit the name ac- 
cordingly. You can also drag and drop 
items to organize your list. To create a 
new folder, right-click any item and se- 
lect New Folder. You can drag and 
drop items from the sidebar, as well. 

Windows Favorites 

Favorites in Windows are actually 
shortcuts similar to the ones found in 
your Start menu. A shortcut is simply a 
small pointer to another resource. The 
shortcuts in your Start menu typically 
point to executable (EXE) files, but 
shortcuts in your Favorites directory 
point to Internet resources. 



20 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Q Organizing Data 



Windows 98 and Windows Me store 
your Favorites in the C:\WINDOWS\ 
FAVORITES directory. Windows XP is 
a multiuser OS (operating system) that 
provides special home directories 
within the C:\DOCUMENTS AND 
SETTINGS directory for each user on 
the PC. Separate Favorites directories 
reside in each home directory. 

The contents of the Favorites direc- 
tory mirror the entries under Favorites 
in Internet Explorer. Deleting a short- 
cut from the Favorites directory re- 
moves the entry from your Favorites in 
Internet Explorer. Although you could 
modify your Favorites from the Favor- 
ites directory, we'll concentrate instead 
on using the IE interface. 

Organize your Favorites. From 
within IE, click Favorites and Organize 
Favorites. The Organize Favorites 
window has four buttons on the left 
(Create Folder, Rename, Move To Fol- 
der, and Delete) and a list of folders 
and Favorites on the right; select a 
folder or Favorite and click the appro- 
priate button. As with Netscape you 
can move deeper into folders and sub- 
folders by clicking them to open them. 
When you're done click Close. 

Add a Web page. When you find a 
Web site you want to mark, click Favor- 
ites and Add To Favorites to bring up 
the Add Favorite dialog box. You can 
click OK to add the Favorite to your 
overall list, or if you'd rather file the link 
in a specific folder, click Create In if you 
don't see a list of folders beneath the 
name field. Click a folder to list any 
subfolders. To create a new folder with- 
in an existing one, select the appro- 
priate folder, click New Folder, enter a 
name you'll remember, and click OK. 

Trade data. If you run Firefox/ 
Netscape and IE, you might want to 
share your bookmarks among all your 
browsers. Netscape 7.2 automatically 
imports your IE Favorites and places 
them in a separate folder. Firefox and 
Netscape 8.0 give you the option of 
importing bookmarks from another 
browser, including IE, the first time 
you open the browser or whenever you 
select Import from the File menu. To 




When displaying bookmarks in the sidebar in 
Netscape Navigator 7.2 or Firefox 1 .0.2, you can 
drag URLs directly from the location field at the 
top of the browser to a folder in the sidebar. 



import bookmarks from Firefox or 
Netscape into IE, you'll need to click 
Start and Search and then run a search 
for the file Bookmarks.html. If you find 
multiple items, open each file to verify 
it's the file you want to import. Note 
the file's location and open IE. Click 
File, Import And Export, Next, and 
Import Favorites. Click Browse and 
bring up the Bookmarks.html file you 
found earlier. Follow the wizard to 
complete the process. 

Organize Start 

Because the All Programs portion of 
the Start menu is filled with shortcuts 
like those used for Favorites in IE, or- 
ganizing them isn't much different, but 
there are no special tools to do it. In- 
stead, you'll need to work with the 
shortcuts using Windows Explorer. 

Before WinXP. Windows 95/98/Me 
users can find the contents of their 
Start menus in the C:\WINDOWS\ 
START MENU directory; right-click 
the Start menu and click Open or 
Explore. You should see an entry for 
Programs. All the entries in the Pro- 
grams portion of your Start menu are 
inside this folder. Applications located 
above Programs in the Start Menu are 
located with the Program folder in 
Windows Explorer. 

WinXP. Managing shortcuts in Win 
XP is a little more complicated because 
each user can have custom entries in 
his Start menu. There are two types of 



user accounts in WinXP: administra- 
tive and limited. Administrative ac- 
counts have complete system access 
and let their users make changes that 
affect all a system's users. Limited ac- 
count users can change only their own 
account settings. 

WinXP shortcuts used in the All 
Programs menu reside in two types of 
directories: user and global. WinXP 
merges the contents of these directories 
to create specific Start menus for each 
user. The C:\DOCUMENTS AND SET- 
TINGS\ALL USERS\START MENU di- 
rectory contains the global directory, 
which includes any shortcuts to pro- 
grams installed from within an admin- 
istrative account. Replace ALL USERS 
above with a specific username to view 
user-specific entries. If you're working 
with a limited account, you'll be unable 
to delete entries intended for all users. 

In some instances you can reorga- 
nize your Start menu without opening 
Windows Explorer. In Win98 and 
newer versions (including WinXP), 
you can drag and drop shortcuts or 
folders to organize your Start menu. 
You can also right-click entries in the 
All Programs menu to cut, copy, paste, 
rename, or delete the entry. Note that 
making changes in this manner will 
disable Windows' ability to automati- 
cally sort and arrange entries in alpha- 
betical order, but you can right-click 
entries and select Sort By Name to re- 
store alphabetical order. 

Clean PC, Clean Mind 

Although no one's going to give you 
a reward for having well-organized 
bookmarks or a tidy Start menu, you 
can take comfort in knowing that 
everything is in its proper place. When 
you need to find the obscure Web page 
you bookmarked months ago or a 
seldom-used program, a clean, orga- 
nized system will make the task much 
less frustrating. HH 

by Chad Denton 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 21 



^ Organizing Data 



System File 
Filing 

Tools To Straighten Out 
Your Computer's Key Components 




System files are the nuts and bolts 
that make your computer work. 
They provide the underpinnings 
that software needs to function, help 
your PC interact with any number 
of peripheral devices, and provide a 
foundation for the OS (operating sys- 
tem). For the most part, system files 
stay tucked away out of harm's way, as 
most users rarely need to access them. 

Although you may not plan to do 
anything with your system files, you 
still need to know the basic rules and 
regulations concerning them. That 
knowledge may keep you from making 
a critical error and may even help you 
fix future system problems. 

To start, you need to be able to iden- 
tify system files. There are a lot of dif- 
ferent system file types, but they often 
have file name extensions such as .SYS, 
.DLL, .REG, .DRV, and .EXE, among 
others. These files contain essential 
data that your PC needs for the most 



basic operations, so we'll mention right 
away that moving or erasing such files 
may render programs, hardware, or 
even the PC itself inoperable. 

Windows has safeguards against such 
crises, of course. To prevent users from 
accidentally deleting or moving system 
files, such files are often hidden. Hidden 
files do not normally appear when you 
click through the folders on your hard 
drive. They also have read-only attrib- 
utes, so you can erase them only after 
you change their file properties. 

You can get a glimpse of hidden files 
as well as other system files by using 
Windows Explorer. To start Explorer 
right-click Start and then click Explore. 
In the window that appears, you will 
see two sections. The pane on the left 
displays a list of folders, and the right 
pane shows folders and files you are 
currently browsing. Select a folder full 
of files and, from the View menu, click 
Details. Then from the View menu, 
point to Arrange Icons By and click 
Type. This will let you quickly see the 
different file types in the folder. 

Hidden files, of course, will not ap- 
pear unless you want them to. In Win- 
dows XP click Tools, Folder Options, 
and the View tab, and click the Show 
Hidden Files And Folders radio button. 
Clear the Hide Protected Operating 
System Files (Recommended) check- 
box and click Yes to confirm that you 
want to see these files. Also, clear the 
Hide Extensions For Known File Types 
checkbox to see file name extensions. 

In Windows Me click Tools, Folder 
Options, and the View tab. Deselect the 
Hide File Extensions For Known File 



Types checkbox. In Windows 98 click 
View and Folder Options. (In Win- 
dows 95 click Options.) On the View 
tab, clear the Hide File Extensions For 
Known File Types checkbox. (In 
Win95 this is the Hide MS-DOS File 
Extensions For File Types That Are 
Registered checkbox.) 

Now that all of these files are laid 
bare, it's easy to sift through them. 
Right-click a file and then click Prop- 
erties. At the bottom of the Properties 
dialog box that appears, you will see file 
attribute checkboxes, including Read- 
only and Hidden. Keep in mind that if 
you clear these boxes, you make these 
files more susceptible to deletion or 
modification, so change these attrib- 
utes permanently at your own risk. As a 
safety precaution, you'll probably want 
to reverse the steps you took to reveal 
hidden system files. 

Win98 System File Checker 

In spite of all your precautions, it's 
likely that you will eventually en- 
counter a situation where a system file 
is either missing or corrupt, sometimes 
because a third-party program's instal- 
lation routine overwrites or alters a 
system file. Depending on your Win- 
dows version, you probably have built- 
in programs that will help protect or 
restore crucial files. 

Win98 attempts to ward off system 
file problems with its System File 
Checker utility. In Win98 click Start, 
Programs, Accessories, System Tools, 
and System Information. Then click 
Tools and System File Checker. Click 
Settings and you will see a few helpful 
options, especially the Check For 
Changed Files and Check For Deleted 
Files checkboxes, as well as the Always 
Back Up Before Restoring radio button. 
These are straightforward scan variables 
that let you tweak the objectives of 
System File Checker. 

You can also click the Search Criteria 
tab to change the scan's range. In the 
Select The Folders You Want To Check 
box, you can see which folders will be 
scanned. Click Add Folder or Remove 



22 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Q Organizing Data 



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keep tabs on the health of your PC's system files. 

to change the folders in the scan, and 
click Include Subfolders if you want to 
make sure you search folders com- 
pletely. You can also choose to scan by 
file type using the Select The File Types 
You Want To Check box. This is par- 
ticularly helpful if you suspect one type 
of file is causing your problems. 

After you check out the different op- 
tions in System File Checker, click OK, 
and on the System File Checker dialog 
box, click Start. If the scan locates any 
problematic files, you will have several 
options. The default option (recom- 
mended) is Restore File, which returns 
this file to its original state using the 
Windows installation CD. Be sure to 
have this CD on hand so that you can 
restore any files that have been altered. 

You may want to run System File 
Checker following every hardware and 
software installation. This will help 
keep your files in order, and should a 
problem arise, you will have a much 
better idea of the installation that 
caused the problem, which will make 
troubleshooting a much easier process. 

More Recent Protection 

WinMe and WinXP also have built- 
in protection for system files. WinMe 
has System File Protection, and WinXP 
and Windows 2000 have Windows File 
Protection. Both schemes perform es- 
sentially the same tasks but vary a little 
in operation and the files they shield. 

WinXP's Windows File Protection 
keeps tabs on your system files to make 
sure they remain intact. This system 



runs transparently on your PC, 
and there's no menu option to 
launch it. If a program you in- 
stall overwrites a file with one 
that isn't Microsoft-approved, 
a dialog box may prompt you 
to load the WinXP CD and re- 
store the original file. 

WinMe's System File Protec- 
tion works the same way: It 
monitors a database of pro- 
tected files and notifies you 
when one is changed. You can't 
turn off either feature, but re- 
ally, it's for your own good and very 
useful for when you install software 
with suspect programming, or just to 
share your PC with a user with hap- 
hazard clicking habits. 

Windows Updates 

Microsoft lets you take a proactive 
role in keeping your system files ship- 
shape with its Windows Updates page, 
windowsupdate.microsoft.com. 

There are two main segments to this 
page: a Support Information area and a 
Products Update area. The Support 
Information pages contain detailed 
information on software updates and 
device drivers and also list answers to 
frequently asked questions. 

The Product Updates page automati- 
cally checks to see if your PC needs any 
updated files. If you haven't used this 
page before, you may be prompted to 
install a small program that enables the 
scanning process. Next, Microsoft's site 
will check your PC and recommend 
files for you to download. If you like 
you can read a brief description of each 
before selecting the updates you want. 
Note that you won't need to download 
and then double-click a file to complete 
the installation; the Microsoft site will 
install the files for you. 

Driver Do's & Don'ts 

Automatic updates are great, but not 
every update works so easily. Drivers 
can be especially frustrating; if you up- 
date them correctly, your peripherals 



will work better, but do them incor- 
rectly and your hardware may not 
work at all. That may be unsettling 
when you consider that drivers are 
among the most important files you 
use — and that they're also the only 
system files many users will ever need 
to alter on their own. 

Remember that many manufac- 
turers frequently update the drivers 
for their hardware, especially in the 
event of a major OS release. When 
you visit a manufacturer Web site in 
search of new drivers, be careful to 
check the release notes and make sure 
the driver isn't a beta version. Beta 
versions are trial versions that often 
have serious programming errors. If 
you install a beta driver in place of one 
that was originally working, you might 
be in for a nasty surprise. 

In addition to ill-advised driver up- 
dates, some users become victims of 
the drivers from other new pieces of 
hardware. For example, if you have a 
small laser printer and you try to in- 
stall the drivers for your new photo 
inkjet printer, the drivers may con- 
flict with each other. As a result it's 
possible that one or both printers 
might malfunction. 

If you encounter such conflicts, 
uninstall the driver for the new hard- 
ware to see if that lets your older pe- 
ripheral function; if it does, call the 
technical support number for the new 
hardware to determine the best way 
to install both devices on the same 
PC. If the original peripheral doesn't 
work, try reinstalling its driver. 

File It Away 

There are no guarantees with drivers 
or system files other than that you will 
probably have problems if something 
happens to them. If you do see an error 
message related to these files, remem- 
ber that you can use your Windows 
CD to restore these files and that you 
can always download drivers from the 
appropriate Web site. \M\ 

by Nathan Chandler 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 23 



Storing Files 



How Drives 
Store Files 

Space Allocation System 
Makes Windows Unique 




Even though CPUs get all the 
press, hard drives are the real 
workhorses of the PC world. 
Inside every case hums one 
of these tricky little pieces 
of modern engineering, contentedly 
keeping track of all our spreadsheets, 
documents, email messages, Web 
pages, digital photographs, and what- 
ever else we decide to throw megabytes 
at. Our machines are basically worth- 
less without hard drives. Let's delve 
into one of these rectangular wonders 
and find out just what makes it spin. 

First, it's important to understand 
how computers store information at 
the most basic level: the bit. Bits are 
binary digits, a means of expressing 
values based on just two numbers, 1 
and 0. To understand the binary sys- 
tem, take a look at our more familiar 
base- 10 system of counting. With base- 
10, we can count all the way from zero 



to nine without resorting to double- 
digit numbers. When we get to 10, we 
have to jump to two digits: a 1 in the 
tens place and a in the ones place. 

A binary, or base-2 system, has just 
two different numbers, the 1 and the 0. 
Counting in a base-2 system starts off 
the same way as in a base- 10 system. 
First is zero, then one . . . and suddenly 
we're out of numbers. Just as we have 
to jump to two digits at 10, a binary 
computer must start using two digits 
at the number two: a 1 in the twos 
place and a in the ones place: 10. 

The binary system might seem com- 
plicated at first. If you're a computer 
that didn't grow up counting fingers 
and toes, however, the base-2 system is 
pretty easy. With just two possible 
states (1 and 0), 1 bit stores a pretty 
small amount of information. To give 
programmers a little more breathing 
room, computers generally deal with 8- 
bit strings called bytes. Using 8 bits in 
a binary system yields 256 possible 
combinations. The ASCII (American 
Standard Code for Information Inter- 
change) system assigns one of these 
combinations to all the uppercase and 
lowercase letters of the alphabet along 
with punctuation and other symbols. 

For instance, uppercase A is number 
65 on the ASCII chart, which corre- 
sponds to 01000001 in base-2. If you 
were to save a text document contain- 
ing just the letter A, the PC would store 
01000001 in its memory. Longer text 
documents, then, are strings of bytes, 
each corresponding to a letter of text. 

Similarly, other types of data, such as 
graphics or sounds, can be converted to 



bits by assigning numbers to each tiny 
part of the whole. For graphics, the ele- 
mental unit would be a pixel, or one 
small square of the image. A low value, 
such as all zeros, might mean white, 
while a high value, such as all ones, 
could be black. Various shades of 
colors range in between those values. 

Bit By Bit 

The binary system lets computers 
store any type of information as strings 
of Is and 0s. The next question is: How 
exactly does a hard drive store those 
all-important Is and 0s? The fact that 
we're using only two different units 
makes the task easier from the outset: A 
memory location, however we build it, 
either contains a 1 or it doesn't. 

For example, early computers used 
punch cards to store data. A particular 
spot on the card was either punched 
out or it wasn't. If we used a base- 10 
system, on the other hand, we would 
have to come up with 10 ways to differ- 
entiate what datum resided in a partic- 
ular location. As you can imagine, such 
a system would be much more com- 
plex and likely more prone to error. 

Computers no longer use punch 
cards, but the advantages of the binary 
system carry over into more modern 
forms of data storage to enable some 
pretty fantastic and reliable equipment. 
One such amazing data storage ma- 
chine is the humble hard drive. 

The principles underlying hard drive 
technology are fairly simple. Most of us 
have toyed around with magnets at one 
time or another. Many people have 
also seen that a magnet can magnetize 
material that previously had no mag- 
netic qualities. Now imagine an elec- 
tromagnet, basically a coil of wire with 
an electric current running through it, 
being run over a bed of some easily 
magnetized material. If we turn the 
electromagnet on and off as we move 
it, we'll leave behind a trail of spots, 
some magnetized and some not. As 
with the punch cards of yore, these 
magnetic variations can be manipu- 
lated to represent Is and 0s. 



24 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



If^ Storing Files 



After making a record of informa- 
tion on a magnetized medium, the 
next trick is to read that data. Writing 
with magnetic fields relies on the fact 
that electricity passing through a coil 
creates magnetism. Reading that data 
uses the opposite approach: A mag- 
netic field placed close to a coil will 
produce a small electrical current. 
Thus, if we run the magnetized mate- 
rial (imagine a reel-to-reel tape) back 
over the read/write head with our 
electromagnet off, the tiny fields cre- 
ated during the write operation can be 
detected through the weak electric 
currents they create. 

That's the basic idea behind all sorts 
of magnetic storage systems, from tape 
recorders up to hard drives. The advent 
of hard drives introduced one major 
advantage over the old reel-to-reel sys- 
tems: random access. 

As you've probably noticed, cassette 
tapes are not that convenient when 
you want to find a particular spot in 
your recording. Skipping to the middle 
of a movie on VHS or the fifth song on 



an audiocassette means hitting the 
fast-forward button and unspooling 
the tape until you've reached some- 
where near the correct spot. 

A hard drive, on the other hand, re- 
sembles a record player. When you 
want to move to another song on a 
record, you lift the needle and move it 
to another spot. Instead of a record 
with grooves, however, a hard drive has 
a platter coated with a magnetic mate- 
rial that resembles a tape recorder 
ribbon. Rather than a needle dragging 
along in a groove, the hard drive has a 
read/write head that moves back and 
forth while the platter spins so the 
read/write head can detect or create the 
faint, magnetic signatures of data. 

Although the hard drive might look 
a little like a small record player, it is, of 
course, quite a bit more advanced. The 
platters on this turntable spin at either 
5,400rpm (revolutions per minute) or 
7,200rpm for most drives (that's at 
least 90 revolutions a second) while the 
read/write head moves back and forth 
faster than the human eye can see, 



How Other Media Store Files 



Hard drives aren't 
the only way to 
store data, of course. 
However, most other 
mechanisms work on 
fairly similar concepts 
and, on bad days, can 
suffer from similar 
problems. 

The floppy diskette 
is a close cousin of the 
hard drive. The main 
difference between 
the two is the floppy 
has a flexible, plastic, 
magnetic medium in- 
stead of a hard, mag- 
netic platter. Both use 
the same FAT (file al- 
location table) system 
to organize data. 
Floppy alternatives, 
such as the Zip disk, 



work on the same 
principles. 

Tapes use mag- 
netism to store data, 
although the tape is 
strung out linearly in- 
stead of grouped into 
clusters on a platter 
that's easy to access. 
Depending on the 
backup software used 
to operate the drive, a 
FAT-like directory of 
files is stored in one of 
the tape's multiple 
tracks. 

Optical discs, such 
as CD-ROMs, rely on a 
different technology 
altogether for storing 
data. Optical discs 
still use the binary 
code of Is and 0s, but 



instead of setting out 
information in a mag- 
netic code, the binary 
digits are reduced to a 
series of pits in a 
tightly wound spiral. 
A laser moves back 
and forth around the 
disc to read the sur- 
face. As with hard and 
floppy drives, CD- 
ROMs have a table of 
contents similar to 
the FAT. 

Procedures for 
finding lost data after 
some storage disaster 
will vary depending on 
the type of medium. 
Look through the 
Recovering Data sec- 
tion, which starts on 
page 106, for answers. I 



PARABDN SOnVlARE 



Partitioning 
utility for hard 
disks. 



Partition Manager 






!»'" 




Some programs, such as Paragon's Partition 
Manager (www.partitionmanager.com), are 
designed to reclaim some of the drive space 
that the FAT (file allocation table) wastes. 

stopping in the exact spot on the disk 
to pick up some tiny bit of data. 

Enter The OS 

Figuring out how to store and re- 
trieve all those Is and Os in tiny mag- 
netic spaces is not the end of the 
story. With so much information 
being stored in multigigabyte hard 
drives, the file system plays a key role 
in keeping all the information straight 
and within easy reach for retrieval. 

A file system is a fancy way of de- 
scribing how an OS (operating system), 
such as Windows, organizes hard 
drives and other media. File systems 
could be thought of as analogous to 
methods used for organizing books in 
libraries. A lot of choices have to be 
made along the way: where the shelves 
will go, how tall they will be, and in 
what order the books will be classified. 
These choices don't change the books 
themselves, but they do affect what you 
need to do to find them. 

An empty hard drive is like that big, 
empty library, and different OSes ap- 
proach the task of carving it into book 
nooks in different ways. Older Win- 
dows machines rely on a file system 
known as FAT (file allocation table). 
FAT was actually the file system created 
for DOS, the old text OS longtime 
computer users not-so-fondly remem- 
ber. Windows originally used the FAT 
system because it's backward compat- 
ible, making it easy to read disks a DOS 
PC wrote in the FAT format years ago. 

Newer versions of Windows NT and 
Windows XP use a system similar to 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 25 



\\l Storing Files 



JL\2£ 



Which drive do you want to defragment? 



Copyright © 1981-2000 Microsoft Corporation 

Copyright © 1 988-1 892 Symantec Corporation 

Intel Application Launch Accelerator 



Settings.. 



Disk Defragmenter gathers up the scattered 
pieces of yourfiles and stores them together. 



- 






jjjd 



General Tools j 



Type: Local Disk 

FOe system: FAT32 




■ Used space: 4,402,372,603 bytes 4.09GB 

I - Free space: 9.254,649,856 bytes 8.61GB 

Capacity: 1 3,657,022,464 bytes 12.7GB 







Drive C Disk Q: 



OK Cancel 



| Apply 



Right-click a drive in My Computer and click 
Properties for information on the file system. 

FAT with several advances. Called 
NTFS (NT file system), the newer stan- 
dard supports encryption of individual 
files, runs with greater stability, and 
uses large hard drives more efficiently. 
NTFS is the best choice for most users 
with NT or XP because of its greater re- 
liability. If you have two OSes loaded 
on the same machine, however, the 
older OS may not be able to read the 
NTFS portion of the drive. 

Under the NTFS or FAT system (or 
the updated FAT32 version, which 
handles twice as many bits at a time as 
the old 16-bit system), a hard drive is 
divided into sectors of 512 bytes each. 
Although sectors could be accessed in- 
dividually in theory, the task of keeping 
track of so many sectors would under- 
mine the speed of most machines. 

Therefore, sectors are grouped into 
clusters that vary in size according to 
the capacity of the drive and file 
system. In the FAT system, cluster size 



ranges from four sectors in smaller 
drives to 64 sectors in larger disks. 
FAT32 drives use clusters as large as 32 
sectors in size; NTFS systems use 
smaller clusters of about four sectors. 
Sectors, in turn, are grouped into 
tracks that resemble circular bands 
around the platter. 

Tao Of Clusters 

Unlike a library shelf where books 
take up exactly as much space as they 
are wide, each file on a hard drive takes 
up a whole number of clusters. If a file 
is 5,000 bytes in size, it would occupy 
one entire cluster on a drive with a 
cluster size of 8,192 bytes. A 10,000- 
byte file would take up two whole clus- 
ters even though more than 6,000 bytes 
of space in the second cluster would ac- 
tually go unused. So, smaller clusters, 
such as those NTFS uses, mean less of 
the hard drive is wasted. 

Every one of the clusters is num- 
bered, which gives the file system a way 
to build a directory. When the OS re- 
quests the data from a particular file, it 
goes to an index stored in a special part 
of the hard drive. This index, the file al- 
location table, gives the FAT system its 
name. NTFS uses a similar index called 
the MFT (Master File Table). There, 
the name of every file is listed along 
with the number of the cluster where it 
begins. This makes it simple to find a 
file but also creates a key vulnerability 
in a FAT or NTFS system. 

If something happens to the area of 
the disk where the FAT or MFT is 
stored, the OS won't be able to find any 
file on the hard drive. The file system 
tries to compensate for this by keeping 
a second FAT or MFT next to the first 
as a backup, but given the tight quar- 
ters on a hard drive, whatever calamity 
damages the first table is likely to scrub 
out the second one, as well. 

The FAT/MFT also includes a list of 
clusters on the drive and whether they 
are in use or free for storage. This 
brings up another difference between a 
library and a hard drive. Adding books 
in a library might require moving over a 



few books on a single shelf. If new bits 
of an existing file were to be saved next 
to the older portions, the file already sit- 
ting next door would be obliterated. 

Instead of attempting to shove over 
all of the data on your hard drive to 
squeeze in additions, Windows just 
stores it in any old free space on the 
drive. The OS then goes back to the file 
index and simply makes a notation 
about where to find the rest of the file. 
In practice, this leads to most files 
being scattered in pieces around the 
hard drive. Accessing that information 
requires the read/write head to skip 
around the platters to gather files that 
will be reassembled in system memory. 

Troubles 

The high speeds and submicro- 
scopic distances involved in your av- 
erage hard drive leave little room for 
error. Unfortunately, trouble tries to 
cram itself in anyhow. 

On the hardware side, the magnetic 
platter might contain some imperfec- 
tion, leading to a bad cluster. A spindle 
motor might conk out, leaving your 
drive without the power to spin. The 
most infamous hard drive failure, 
however, is the head crash in which the 
read/write heads lose their bearings 
and careen straight into the platter, 
scratching innumerable bits right out 
of existence. 

Software failure causes other drive 
problems. Aside from an AWOL FAT 
or MFT file as described above, the 
OS might incorrectly number a few 
clusters or point more than one file to 
the same cluster. There's a lot to re- 
member, and a stray electron here or 
there can tie the file system in knots. 

As you've probably experienced with 
your own computer, however, hard 
drive mess-ups are generally rare — 
devastating when they happen, sure, 
but overall not that common consid- 
ering the constant demand. It's a good 
thing our computers rely on something 
that is basically reliable. \M\ 

by Alan Phelps 



26 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



If^ Storing Files 



The Question 
Of Compression 



How Does It Work? 




We all know people who spend 
a lot of time talking but 
say almost nothing. Even 
Shakespeare, after all the antics, po- 
etics, and sublime drama, often only 
has one or two events of consequence 
in a long scene. (Hamlet's soliloquies, 
anyone?) We seem to be on a quest to 
fit the maximum amount of content 
into the shortest possible time. We 
don't bother with introducing some- 
one like this: "Allow me to introduce 
the good gentleman Charles DeBrewski 
of Hackensack, son of Charles the 
Elder, son of Wilbur the Bald." Instead, 
a simple "This is Chuck," satisfies just 
about everyone. Really, nobody has the 
time or patience to sit through all of 
that extraneous blathering. 

The same problem exists in com- 
puting. Computers have their own lan- 
guage, binary, which ultimately boils 
down to strings of the digits and 1. As 
time goes on, we have the capacity to 
work with larger and larger files, but we 
still find ourselves running into the 
problems of limited storage space and 
bottlenecked bandwidth. 



If you take a 250,000-word novel and 
save it in a generic file format, it might 
consume roughly 2.5MB. Not only is 
this too large for a floppy diskette, but it 
also takes a fair amount of time to 
transfer over a dial-up Internet connec- 
tion. You need to find a way to shrink 
the file size without harming the data or 
your ability to retrieve it. This shrinking 
process is known as compression. 

Why should you care about com- 
pression? Aside from the fact that hard 
drives with more free space tend to 
perform better, the biggest answer is 
money. You may think of the Internet 
in flat-rate terms: "I pay $21.95 a 
month for unlimited access. What does 
it matter how much I download?" 
However, your ISP (Internet service 
provider) has to pay for everything 
from server space to high-speed con- 
nection fees. An ISP bases its monthly 
rate on its many, many costs averaged 
across its user base plus a bit of profit. 

But if all an ISP's users choose to 
send and receive uncompressed files, 
this bloated load costs the ISP more 
money to handle and slows down the 
Internet as a whole. (This is also why 
spam needs to be blocked at the ISP 
level, so as not to force the provider to 
raise your rates.) Compression is essen- 
tial today and will only grow more so 
as our information and entertainment 
needs continue to swell. 

Compression 101 

What's mine is yours, and what is 
yours is mine. 

At only 10 words, this famous line 
from Act V, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's 



"Measure for Measure" seems short 
enough, but forsooth, it could be far 
shorter. The sentence comprises 36 let- 
ters, nine spaces, one apostrophe, one 
comma, and one period. If one byte (8 
bits) represents each character, the sen- 
tence totals 48 bytes (384 bits). 

Notice, however, that the sentence 
has a lot of redundancy. The word "is" 
appears thrice and "what," "mine," and 
"yours" each appear twice. Compres- 
sion algorithms often use a "dictio- 
nary," or list of words within the target 
file, to help structure the data. We can 
assign single-character symbols to rep- 
resent strings of repeated characters or 
dictionary words. Thus, ignoring the 
capital W for simplicity's sake, we can 
reduce the sentence using this key: 

@ = what 

# = mine 

$ = is 

% = yours 

Our sentence now becomes: 

@'s # $ %, and @ $ % $ #. 

That's only 25 bytes, a reduction in 
file size by nearly half. With the dictio- 
nary to tell you what symbols stand for 
which words, it's easy to reconstruct 
the original sentence, although the 
compressed sentence and its accompa- 
nying dictionary may be larger than the 
original sentence. Obviously, you see 
more benefit with larger documents. 

Of course, computers don't speak 
English as a native language. They rec- 
ognize patterns, not necessarily re- 
peating words. The first string to be 
repeated is "what," but the second re- 
peating string is actually "s_". Perhaps 
more encompassing, though, is the re- 
peating string "_is_". (For clarity, we'll 
let underscores represent spaces.) If we 
use this latter string to replace our pre- 
vious value for $, our compressed sen- 
tence shrinks to 19 bytes from 48: 

@'s #$%, and @$%$#. 

Dictionaries can be adaptive, mean- 
ing that they analyze a document to 
see what the most efficient symbol 
substitutions would be. For example, 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 27 



|Q Storing Files 



you could construct a dictionary entry 
for "s_", but it wouldn't be as efficient 
for compressing file size. 

More Crunching 

We can make this line smaller than 
19 bytes, but to go further, we need to 
dip below the level of the characters 
and into the underlying binary digits. 

Again, 1 bit is either a or a 1. If we 
have 2 bits, we have four possible 
values: 00, 01, 10, and 11. If you have 3 
bits, there are eight possible values and 
so on, all the way up to 8 bits (1 byte), 
which yields 256 possible values. 

The ASCII (American Standard Code 
for Information Interchange) is a table 
of 256 standard characters, such as let- 
ters, numbers, and punctuation marks 
that more or less make up a standard 
English language keyboard. In order to 
accommodate the ASCII set, every 
character by default is 8 bits in size. 

Our original sentence only has 18 
character values (whatsmineyour 
d , ' ■ _), but if you assign character 
strings to binary values, we only have 
12 string values (@ ' s # $ % , a n d . _). 
Thus we only need binary codes suffi- 
cient to cover 12 values, not 256. 
Consider the following chart as an ex- 
ample of how this might be done. For 
the sake of efficiency, we want to map 
the most commonly used symbols to 
the shortest codes. 

Add up the bits and you'll get 38, 
down from an original size of 384. 
That's nearly a 10:1 compression ratio. 
The actual codes used here are more for 



Symbol Occurrences Code Bits In Sentence 



illustration than accuracy. For instance, 
the code 110 could be "." or "@$" or 

"_#" or even " $". True codes need to 

be uniquely identifiable from within a 
long binary string. 

One Algorithm Does Not Fit All 



(space) 


3 


1 


3 


$ 


3 





3 


@ 


2 


11 


4 


% 


2 


01 


4 


# 


2 


10 


4 


1 




00 


2 


s 




111 


3 


j 




110 


3 


a 




100 


3 


n 




001 


3 


d 




011 


3 






010 


3 



One compression algorithm is not 
meant for every type of file. Moreover, 
some file types simply are better suited 
to compression than others. That's why 
there are many compression schemes. 
Apple Macintosh machines often use 
SIT and RAR file formats while PCs 
gravitate heavily to ZIP formats. Used 
primarily to compress and/or archive 
groups of files, these compression 
schemes are known as being "lossless" 
because no data is lost during compres- 
sion or decompression. 

In contrast, compressed still image 
formats, such as JPEG (Joint Photo- 
graphic Experts Group); motion video 
formats, such as MPEG-4 (Moving 
Pictures Experts Group-4); and audio 
formats, including MP3 and WMA 
(Windows Media Audio), are all great 
not only at shrinking files but also in 
letting users control how much com- 
pression to apply. The trade-off is that 
these schemes work by eliminating 
data, making them "lossy" formats. 
Clearly this wouldn't work with text 
documents. Imagine extracting a file 
and finding half of its letters gone. 

Traditional compression technolo- 
gies, such as LZW and ZIP, perform 
very poorly with video and audio data 
because these programs don't under- 
stand multimedia con- 
tent. Audio formats, on 
the other hand, are de- 
signed specifically to rec- 
ognize and manipulate 
audio signals based on 
models built around the 
capacities of the hu- 
man ear. Why save the 
data for a tiny bell when 
a crashing cymbal buries 
that sound? 

Similarly, if you know 
your audience's speakers 



^f Buy NowjI 

EtfmZipT8TT] 




UonlvS39H 










WfT> r ; h ->m 







WinZip, the first program to bring ZIP 
technology to Windows users, is still the most 
popular compression program in the industry. 

can only play frequencies up to 16KHz, 
there's no point in preserving all the 
data from 16KHz to 20KHz, much less 
anything above that, which is beyond 
the range of most human hearing. 

Video compression is even more 
convoluted. For starters, you can per- 
form operations such as restricting the 
color palette (very similar to reducing 
the symbol dictionary as we outlined 
above). From frame to frame, if a pixel 
keeps the same color value, there's no 
reason to store that value twice; merely 
use a "repeat that color in that spot" 
cue on the subsequent frame. 

Some methods are trickier, such as 
the delta encoding Intel has long used 
for its Indeo scheme. If you take a pic- 
ture of a perfect rainbow, the rainbow 
progresses smoothly from red through 
violet, graduating from one shade to 
the next. If you move horizontally 
across a line of pixels, the color shifts 
slightly from dot to dot, preventing you 
from repeating a value. 

However, the delta encoding process 
uses a wide selection of predefined 
color progressions, such as the blue- 
red-orange of a sunset or the colors of 
the spectrum. Indeo attempts to match 
your rainbow's color gradient to one of 
its own predefined tonal progressions 
and achieve a sort of abbreviated dic- 
tionary entry through that means. 

Pick Your Compression 

Although the number of compres- 
sion methods is vast, the best programs 
support several of the best formats for 
your application type. Of course, a 
user-friendly interface is essential, too. 



28 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



If^ Storing Files 



For example, Windows Media Encoder 
9, Microsoft's latest tool for com- 
pressing raw audio into WMA format, 
is far easier for most users because it 
operates through a familiar Windows 
interface. Windows Media Encoder 8 
only operated from a command line. 

If lossless compression is what you 
need, don't miss Jeff Gilchrist's Com- 
pression Archive Comparison Test site 
(compression. ca). Here you'll find an 



exhaustive study of the major and mi- 
nor compression options and links to 
obtaining them. Streaming or client- 
side audio compression is offered via 
its owners' software (QuickTime from 
Apple, RealAudio from RealNetworks, 
and Windows Media Audio from Mic- 
rosoft) or through a third-party pro- 
vider or licensee. MusicMatch Jukebox, 
for instance, can compress raw audio 
into MP3 or Windows Media. 



The Twisted Tale Of Windows Compression 



Back in the early 
'90s, when hard 
drive capacities were 
tiny and DOS reigned 
supreme, a compres- 
sion program called 
STACKER gained wide 
popularity as a way for 
people to "double" 
their hard drive size for 
only a few dollars, albeit 
with a performance hit 
from the frequent com- 
pression/decompres- 
sion operations. 

According to the 
text of Stac's patent in- 
fringement suit against 
Microsoft (www 
.vaxxine.com/lawyers 
/articles/stac.html), 
Microsoft offered to 
build STACKER tech- 
nology into DOS 6 but 
without any kind of li- 
censing or royalty pay- 
ment. In 1993, DOS 6.0 
debuted with a strik- 
ingly similar technology 
called DoubleSpace and 
ultimately was fined 
$120 million for vio- 
lating Stac's patent. To 
make matters worse, 
DoubleSpace was 
buggy as a beehive at a 
time when the public 
paid more attention to 
performance issues and 
began questioning if 



drive-level compression 
really made sense. 

Months later, DOS 
6.2 fixed the bugs, but 
not the lawsuit. DOS 
6.21 omitted the utility, 
but DOS 6.22 brought 
compression back in 
the form of DriveSpace. 
DriveSpace persisted 
through Windows 95, 
but its popularity con- 
tinued to decline. The 
demands of a graphical 
interface and bal- 
looning applications 
needed greater file re- 
sponse than could be 
achieved while shackled 
with drive compression. 
Add to this growing 
hard drives that re- 
duced the need to 
make every bit of 
storage space count. 

In Windows 98, 
Microsoft took another 
stab at the problem 
with the somewhat im- 
proved DriveSpace 3, 
but the effort was only 
half-hearted. Like its 
predecessors, Drive- 
Space 3 could only 
work on the FAT (file 
allocation table). Win98 
marked the bridge be- 
tween FAT and FAT32, 
and users who opted 
for the latter found 



themselves without a 
compression utility, a 
condition that still per- 
sists in Windows Me. 

These days, with 
300CB and larger 
drives within the reach 
of most PC owners, the 
need for drive com- 
pression is all but gone. 
Oddly, though, com- 
pression in Windows is 
making a comeback, 
no longer for entire 
drive volumes but for 
files and folders on 
drive volumes using 
NTFS (NT file system). 
Windows XP gives 
users the ability to 
compress via options 
menus in Windows 
Explorer. Also, applica- 
tions such as Microsoft 
Outlook can now com- 
press and archive old 
correspondence and 
file attachments. 
People who either 
need to save or neglect 
to delete old material 
are discovering that 
file/folder compression 
is an excellent way to 
organize data, increase 
drive performance, and 
maximize hardware in- 
vestment dollars. I 



If you're just starting out with com- 
pression and need a few pointers, give 
any or all of the Big Three lossless ap- 
plications a fair shake. All are available 
for free evaluation: 

Allume Systems' Stufflt (www.stuffit 
.com). This Macintosh mainstay is now 
an increasingly popular option for 
Windows, Solaris, and Linux users. 
Allume claims that the Stufflt format 
(SIT) is 20% more efficient than ZIP, 
and the interface is a breeze to operate 
either from the Stufflt application or as 
a right-click menu option in Windows 
Explorer. All in all, it's an excellent, 
super-easy program. 

PKWARE's PKZIP (www.pkware 
.com). PKWARE put the ZIP format 
on the map over a decade ago and con- 
tinues to evolve this popular tech- 
nology. The utility's combination of 
encryption and compression enables 
users to secure documents within 
PKZIP using either certificates or pass- 
words. This helps reduce bandwidth 
and storage requirements for network 
administrators. PKWARE offers a full 
line of products for everything from 
desktop to mainframe systems. 

WinZip Computing's WinZip (www 
.winzip.com). WinZip was the first 
program to bring ZIP technology to 
the Windows masses, and its easy-to- 
use wizard and powerful classic inter- 
face have kept it the most popular ZIP 
application in the industry. These days 
WinZip is a native Windows XP pro- 
gram and slips seamlessly into the 
Windows Explorer shell, giving power 
users full access to the most important 
zipping features without having to 
open the application. 

Zip Along 

Once you gain proficiency with one 
compression format, you'll find it's 
easy to master other types. The chal- 
lenge now is to think about how you 
can best use compression across many 
of your computing activities to save 
time and money in the future. H 

by William Van Winkle 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 29 



(Q Storing Files 



File Encryption 

Hide Your Words From Onlookers 




Data security isn't just some- 
thing big businesses need to 
worry about. Think of all the 
files you have that you'd like to keep 
away from prying eyes. Most people 
would rather keep their confidential 
email, personal letters, sensitive pro- 
jects, and credit card numbers from 
online orders to themselves, and the 
only way to truly protect them is 
through encryption. 

Digital data encryption is just a 
fancy and more powerful version of 
the kinds of ciphering humans have 
used through recorded history. 
Having a good understanding of how 
the various encryption standards 
work helps you choose the one that 
best meets your needs. 

What Is Encryption? 

Data encryption software uses ad- 
vanced algorithms to encode the con- 
tents of a file so they can't be read by 
anyone who doesn't have the proper 
key to unscramble them. Encryption 
algorithms are mathematical or they 
apply other rules to files, which sys- 
tematically change the contents of 
those files. When children pass secret 
messages in class, they might use the 



alphabet replacement method where 
they write "a" for "b" and "b" for "c" 
and so on. The shifting of the letters is 
the algorithm, and nobody would 
crack the code without know-ing 
which or how many letters were 
shifted. Encrypting data of any type 
involves processing a message through 
an algorithm to scramble it, and then 
filtering the result through a reverse 
algorithm to restore the original. 

Of course, simple algorithms, such 
as alphabet replacement, don't pro- 
vide much security. Even the least 
jaded teacher will see right through 
the message "H gzsd sghr bkzrr!" ("I 
hate this class!"). That's where com- 
puters come in. Because PCs know 
mathematics as their only language, 
computers apply extremely long and 
complex formulas to data. No mortal 
would ever have time to unravel it if 
they were forced to guess the original 
algorithm used to encrypt the infor- 
mation. Even the most sophisticated 
computers on Earth could take years 
to crack the most advanced encryp- 
tion technology in use today if they 
relied solely on brute force to try 
every possible combination. They 
need to know the original algorithm 
and have the right keys (which we'll 



learn about later) to quickly unlock 
the encrypted file. 

Without that information, there 
are simply too many combinations 
even for a powerful computer to 
quickly run through. In fact, the U.S. 
government banned the best encryp- 
tion tools available to home users 
today from exportation, a technology 
the government considers so dan- 
gerous that it lumps it in with muni- 
tions on its list of taboo exports. If the 
thought of today's best encryption 
programs falling into the wrong 
hands scares the U.S. government, 
you can safely assume those same 
programs will protect your files. 

A variety of applications use ad- 
vanced encryption algorithms, be- 
cause the codes are so easy for modern 
digital components to apply. Movie 
companies encrypt DVD movies so 
that users can't copy the movie to 
VHS tapes. Digital converter boxes for 
televisions apply decryption and de- 
compression algorithms to incoming 
data to create a clear picture out of a 
scrambled signal. Algorithms scramble 
wireless telephone conversations, 
satellite transmissions, and even per- 
sonal email messages in a fraction of a 
second and decrypt them in the same 
amount of time. Of course, that as- 
sumes that those doing the decrypting 
have the right keys to break the code. 

Algorithms & Keys 

Modern encryption technology re- 
lies on bits of data called keys to make 
it much stronger than past routines. 

In one of those old methods, the 
Spartans wrapped a strip of paper 
around a stick with a particular diam- 
eter before writing a message on the 
paper. When the message creator un- 
wound the paper, the message showed 
a seemingly random series of letters, 
and the recipient re-created the 
message when he wound the paper 
around a stick with exactly the same 
diameter as the original. 

Cryptographers use key values as 
the equivalent of those ancient cipher 



30 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



If^ Storing Files 



g\ 



Edit 



sticks, using constants to 
encode and decode text. 
Imagine a cipher stick 
that stretches from here 
to the moon and has 
countless random varia- 
tions in diameter from 
one end to the other, 
ranging in size from a 
tree stump to a toothpick. That's how 
difficult it is to randomly duplicate 
today's keys. 

When you read about any encryp- 
tion standard that uses keys, you first 
notice how many bits the standard 
uses. It takes 8 bits (the smallest 
amount of data a computer can ad- 
dress) to create a single byte. In the 
context of encryption, bits express 
how complex the keys used by a cer- 
tain standard are, where the number 
of possible combinations equals two 
to the power of the bit value. 

For example, a simple 8-bit encryp- 
tion standard allows for a measly 2 A 8 
possible combinations, meaning that 
anyone attempting to crack the 
encryption code will have to run 
through a maximum of 256 keys before 
they find one that matches the original 
key. Even a human with mediocre 
math skills could find a match for the 
code, and a typical desktop PC could 
crack an 8-bit encryption scheme in 
less than a second. 

Because bit values are exponential, 
encryption codes quickly reach the 
kinds of numbers where even the 
fastest computers would take forever 
to exhaust all the possibilities. Jump- 
ing up to 32 bits yields more than 4 
billion possible combinations, and the 
best encryption methods in use today 
range from 128 bits to 256 bits, 
yielding combination of numbers we 
don't have room to print. More bits 
mean better security. In fact, "strong- 
encryption" technology uses 128-bit 
or larger keys instead of the 40- to 50- 
bit keys of the past. 

However, files encrypted with more 
complex keys take longer to un- 
scramble than files that are created 
with shorter keys. If you're only 



lsl*l 



This document hasn't been I 
encrypted yet, but as you'll see 
in the box below, these words 
turn to gibberish when PGP 
encryption is applied. 



These two examples show the original plain 
text (left) and the same text as it looks PGP 
(Pretty Good PrivacyJ-encrypted and signed. 



M* 



—BEGIN PGP MESSAGE 

Uersion: PGPfreeware 7.8.3 for non-commercial use <http://uuu.pgp.con> 

qnHqRir>BMUl[U5/lspUrbJ5YqB/uXGxJEFZExEHIKZwd-|qzNwHZfaCIRE1$uaCRP1 
FSUq6GqUkxGRLrFEF1E8HyYPPJChPfGtij5aUlEU0q4tPXFqP8sjUmUXwBlujlJX 
9hg7CoupsloSspbTI1ctt7FJ3coNushUh95msclp/qnXR4inUsnMgP*iXb/ysCIyny 
C7uZ1o37BbHHlluiukqRgxprFRIPCBTKpLix2flUKYIflMFzz9cl|Rl7K+1QG5SeT9rn 
D2UaatXbnleqYcIPtdPiNHtx5Nyh6Ki|jclsMtw7RyirudQBXtFJBdimi65diiF29 
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siXFBci|g1E92H+WG+ByXgBB6oV4GEKkDBB1d88BVixgnJGKayM+VTq3VPWUJCFTs 
496p85dT9c2ULK6eUC5+t3kxdl8PHTHl|5ZBriJRHq/-1C4bGdl|Y-1m6G5YkxmP6-16q 
1fupzEnll3YsCmyNBEClGcEfBeaz+BEFZ9UN/2q9YubH1iGhSFltUbsK5X1tN6tHfl 
mBiCyuSPxbNppEmfIediNZWTM7ngu+uDeHbCeumJBtrSZrfi/MK2JNjlahHSSXLle 
bUb2UsV1DZUeEiGtnusFxuFrlxMqe/blbiiqj2CaoEq3NS+qX17ca4GFTSex04PI 
ePJd912KycRlQ2FFqNeBqeDqBlnhJDhCitB3sJME56a/NPuGrhbqEaHbneBoRxhll 
gKflaudBefrHayub38bB6zk/uSFJgPX9dgtBDfSBBjBSGoYoeLDgqnZf jBepoUXYB 
yJnlTYfBmtl+Saiiq3zqJGugruRgcGpRhgEkIGBd+gTinC+cGoynF+xi|uDuG17ii42 
YN1nb15Saou0xq0yuXdktubGedbs/pTyS1MXUFPrt1IBeG2iduiNZ/R+yiiaZTy8q 
GEiBSJU/aBcGeNTXi>uPauDxqHg/bflrdqHyBJgU9rgxFu1Ni|dknN4Joli7tuTGg== 

7SUT 

END PGP MESSAGE 



decrypting a few files now and then, 
that's no big deal, but it becomes a se- 
rious issue when file volume increases 
or you start dealing with the encryp- 
tion and decryption of real-time 
streaming data, such as phone calls 
and television signals. 

Types Of Encryption 

Public keys (asymmetric) and se- 
cret keys (symmetric) make up 
today's most oft-used encryption 
standards, and each encryption 
method, as you will see, has its own 
strengths and weaknesses. 

Asymmetric. In public key encryp- 
tion, users generate a set of keys, one 
public and one private. The private key 
is then associated with a password or 
passphrase that you must enter each 
time you wish to decrypt a file. You 
keep your private key and passphrase 
secret, and then supply your public key 
to people you want to share encrypted 
data with. They use your public key to 
encrypt their files, and those who have 
the private key can then read those en- 
crypted files. Sometimes it's helpful to 
think of the public key as a lock instead 
of a key, because it most often is used 
to secure files. 

As you can see, anyone who wants 
to understand a file encrypted with 



your public key needs 
two crucial pieces of in- 
formation: the private 
key that unlocks it and 
the passphrase you use to 
activate that key. With- 
out those things, the en- 
crypted file looks like a 
string of gibberish. Best 
of all, people with your 
public key can never de- 
crypt files intended just 
for you. That means even 
if a friend encrypts an 
email using your public 
key and then wants to 
open it to edit the mes- 
sage, it's impossible. 

As an additional ben- 
efit, public key encryp- 
tion schemes, such as PGP (Pretty 
Good Privacy), let you use digital sig- 
natures, which makes users electroni- 
cally "sign" a file or document so that 
recipients of that file have an easy way 
of proving from whom the file came. 
Most digital signature standards pro- 
vide other authentication services, 
such as proving that no one altered the 
file or document after it was signed. 

Users can sign messages using an al- 
gorithm that incorporates their private 
key and then encrypt the message 
using the intended recipient's public 
key. The recipient uses the private key 
to decode the message and then uses 
an algorithm that checks the signature 
against the sender's public key to see if 
they match up. If they match, the sig- 
nature authenticates the message. 

Symmetric. Symmetric-key encryp- 
tion standards use the same private 
keys to both encrypt and decrypt in- 
formation. You generate the key and 
give copies of it to everyone with 
whom you want to securely share data. 
It seems pointless to use the same key 
for both functions, because anyone 
with the key can read any document 
encrypted with it, compromising pri- 
vacy, but symmetric-key encryption 
has its uses. For one thing, it is very 
fast and convenient for encrypting files 
you don't intend to share. If you have 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 31 



|Q Storing Files 



Encryption 
On The Internet 



Buying things on the Internet has 
become as commonplace as 
using the technology for email or re- 
search; encryption technology de- 
serves credit for ecommerce's 
success. Encryption lets you secure 
connections between your computer 
and another PC on the Internet, 
scrambling all the data sent over the 
line and preventing hackers from in- 
tercepting personal information and 
credit card numbers in transit. 
Mainly, two Internet protocols, SSL 
(Secure Sockets Layer) and S-HTTP 
(Secure-Hypertext Transfer Protocol), 
made Internet security possible 

SSL, a public key encryption stan- 
dard, creates a temporary secure 
connection between your computer 
and the server with which it com- 
municates. When you use an SSL 
connection, the first part of the URL 
(uniform resource locator) in the 
address bar reads "https" instead of 
"http." A small padlock icon also ap- 
pears at the bottom of the browser 
window, and it will be locked when 
the connection is secure. Less 
common than SSL, S-HTTP doesn't 
create a secure connection. Instead, 
it encrypts individual Web files. You 
send these documents over a 
normal connection or over a secure 
SSL connection. 

Be aware that just because your 
data is transmitted securely to a 
company doesn't mean they are 
keeping your data secure at their 
site. Check the privacy and other 
policies at a store to make sure they 
don't share any data with other 
companies and that they keep their 
customer data encrypted and stored 
in a safe place. A hacker might not 
be able to snag your credit card 
number while it's en route to an 
etailer, but secure transmissions are 
moot if that same hacker can easily 
break into a company database and 
steal your credit card information 
from its records. I 



extremely sensitive documents that 
you don't want anyone to read, sym- 
metric-key encryption coupled with 
a complex passphrase is a tough 
combination to beat. 

Of course, symmetric solutions 
have some serious drawbacks 
when used to share informa- 
tion. If security is compro- 
mised on any PC using the 
shared key, everyone is in 
trouble. With public-key tech- 
nology, if the private key on 
one PC is stolen, only the se- 
curity of the user with that 
particular key is compromised. 
Everyone else has different 
public and private keys that 
remain unaffected. 




PGP 



This certificate is intended 






:.'.' :rf .". ; • ! -:: : ; /: ' // 



Issued by: !■"■■" v />:: / a'/ Ref. LIABILITY 

LTD.|c]97VeriSign 



Valid irora 03/12/2002 to 03/12/2004 



A popular public-key en- 
cryption system developed by 
Philip Zimmerman in 1991, 
PGP lets individuals secure 
their documents with extremely 
strong encryption algorithms and long 
keys. Robust commercial versions of 
PGP exist, but the freeware version 
should suffice for most users. The first 
thing you need is a copy of the PGP 
Freeware, available at www.pgp.com 
/downloads/freeware/index. html. 
Download the software and double- 
click the file to begin the installation. 
Turn off any email software before you 
begin the installation. 

Eventually, the installer asks you if 
you have existing PGP keyrings you'd 
like to import or if you are a new 
user. If you already have keyrings, you 
likely know how to use PGP, so we'll 
focus on the latter option. Choose the 
No, I'm A New User radio button, 
click Next, choose an installation di- 
rectory (or leave the default setting in 
place), and click Next again. When 
the Select Components box appears, 
check all the boxes that correspond to 
the email, messaging, and other soft- 
ware installed on your computer. 
Keep clicking Next until the installa- 
tion begins and wait for the PGPnet 



PayPal's site is secured with SSL. Double- 
clicking the padlock icon calls up a 
certificate verifying that this is indeed 
PayPal's site and not an imposter. 



Set Adapter box to appear. Check the 
All Network And Dial-up Adapters 
box to set the software up so that you 
can establish secure connections with 
other PGP users and click OK. 

After another short automatic instal- 
lation and configuration sequence, the 
installer presents the Key Generation 
Wizard. Clicking the Expert button 
here opens up some advanced options 
that let you select the type of key you 
want to generate (we recommend 
DiffieHellman/DSS), select a key size 
ranging from 1,024 to 4,096 bits, and 
choose whether or not you want the 
keys to expire (to improve overall secu- 
rity). Key sizes of more than 2,048 bits 
can take an excessively long time to 
generate, if you want the extra security. 
If you simply click Next on the main 
Key Generation Wizard screen, you'll 
only be able to enter your name and 
email address to assist with authentica- 
tion, and keys using the default settings 
(Diffie-Hellman/DSS at 2048 bits) will 
be generated. You won't get the option 
to establish an expiration date, so any 



32 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



If^ Storing Files 



keys you generate in this fashion re- 
main in effect forever. 

The Passphrase Assignment screen 
lets you establish the passphrase you'll 
use to access your private key. Do not 
use any quotes, personal information, 
or other easily guessed phrases in your 
passphrase and mix numbers and let- 
ters if possible. "In the year of 1492 
Columbus sailed the ocean blue," 
mixes numbers and letters but is a 
poor passphrase. The Passphrase 
Quality progress bar gives you an indi- 
cation of your passphrase's effective- 
ness. The bar fills up faster when you 
insert numbers, symbols, and spaces 
into your passphrase. All of these ele- 
ments make passphrases much harder 
to guess or crack. Most importantly, 
do not forget this passphrase, or your 
keys will be worthless. 

Click Next to generate your keys. 
Faster computers create keys quickly. 
The 1GHz processor in our test ma- 
chine kicked out a 2,048-bit key in 
just a few seconds, but larger keys 
took more time. Repeat the process to 
create as many key pairs as you like. 
When everything is finished, the in- 
stallation instructs you to restart your 
computer so PGP can integrate with 
the rest of your programs. 

Encrypt With PGP 

Once Windows loads, you'll see a 
new lock-shaped icon in the System 
Tray. When you place your pointer 
over it you'll see it's labeled PGPtray. 
For the easiest way to access PGP's fea- 
tures, click this icon. Select Options in 
the pop-up menu to further adjust the 
software. As you become more fa- 
miliar with the program's basic opera- 
tion, you can use the Advanced, CA, 
Servers, and Files tabs to access some 
of the program's expert-level features, 
but we will discuss the General, Email, 
and HotKeys tabs that most beginners 
will need. If you want to find out more 
about any particular entry, right-click 
the entry and a text box appears. 

That said, select the General tab 
and look at the passphrase caching 



UGQ 




What's better than PGP? Free PGP, of course, 
which is available from the PGP Corp. 

options in the Single Sign-On box. 
Cached passphrases means you enter 
the passphrase once to decrypt a mes- 
sage, the passphrase remains in effect 
for the amount of time you specify. 
As long as the passphrase is cached, 
you won't have to type it again, but 
anyone who uses your computer 
while the passphrase is cached can 
read all your encrypted files. 

If you work at a very secure location 
(such as a home computer nobody 
else uses), you can safely select the 
Cache Passphrase While Logged On 
option to keep your passphrase active 
the entire time Windows is running. 
The next option lets you select how 
long you want the passphrase cached 
before PGP purges it and makes you 
retype it. With the final option, Do 
Not Cache Passphrase, you enter the 
passphrase every time you decrypt a 
file. All other options in the General 
tab can remain at their default settings 
until you get more experienced with 
the software's operation. 

With the options in the Email tab, 
you determine how thoroughly you 
want to incorporate PGP into your 
email software. The self-explanatory 
entries let you do things, such as auto- 
matically encrypt new messages, sign 
every email you send, or automatically 
decrypt and verify when opening mes- 
sages, which is extremely handy if you 
work in a secure location and receive 
lots of encrypted email. 

Finally, the HotKeys tab helps you 
establish keyboard shortcuts for ac- 
cessing most of PGP's functions. You 
must check the boxes to activate the 



shortcuts. The keyboard combina- 
tions make it easier for you to encrypt 
and decrypt data without fumbling 
around for the right icon all the time. 

After setup, you can use PGP in 
practically any program that lets you 
work with text. Just activate the 
window containing the text you want 
to encrypt (or decrypt), press the 
appropriate shortcut or click the 
PGPtray icon, expand the Current 
Window entry, and click the entry that 
corresponds with the action you want 
to perform. If you accidentally (or 
purposely) encrypt a message multiple 
times, the recipient must decrypt it the 
same number of times to restore the 
original message. It's as simple as that. 

Some programs, such as your email 
client, may also get their own PGP 
icons in the System Tray that you can 
click to encrypt and decrypt files. If 
you want to share PGP-encrypted 
files with anyone else, you have to 
send them your public PGP key and 
have them send you their public 
key. There are several ways to do this, 
most involving PGPkeys. Access 
the program by clicking Start, ex- 
panding Programs and PGP, and 
clicking PGPkeys. You also can click 
the PGPtray icon and click PGPkeys. 

When the program launches, click 
your key pair (the one with your 
name on it) and select Copy from the 
Edit menu. Open an email and select 
Paste from the Edit menu; your 
public key will be pasted in for easy 
transfer to anybody. The recipient 
then copies the key and uses PGPkeys' 
Paste feature to add it to the list. 
Alternately, you can select Export 
from the Keys menu and send the re- 
sulting file as an attachment. 

Advanced users can post their public 
keys to a key server, where anyone can 
retrieve them. For this, use one of the 
public servers on the Internet or one 
set up at your workplace (if you're al- 
lowed). Refer to the documentation 
that comes with PGP to learn more 
about this alternative. HI] 

by Tracy Baker 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 33 



|Q Storing Files 



Personal Space 

Keep Your Data Safe 
From Wandering PC Guests 




Whether it's the children clam- 
oring for their favorite game 
or a colleague trying to check 
email, you may need to share your PC. 
If your daily routine includes sharing a 
PC with another person, someone else 
has access to your important files or 
personal information. That means you 
need to secure that data. And you don't 
want Bob from Accounting to down- 
load an infected file from the Internet. 

Sharing a PC isn't hard, but it takes 
a bit of trust, mutual understanding, 
and common sense. This article out- 
lines a series of steps that will keep 
your data safe from prying eyes and 
mischievous hands. 

To Each His Own 

The easiest way to share a PC is to 
agree on a means of sharing the folders 
or drives on that PC. If you're sharing 
a PC with your spouse, you can ar- 
range it so that you use the C: drive 
and your spouse uses the second (D:) 
drive. This way you both share the 
same OS (operating system) and appli- 
cations but you store all your work on 
separate drives. If your system has only 



one hard drive (or additional users 
share the PC), you can use this same 
technique with different folders. 

For example, suppose that George 
and Martha need to share a PC with 
their three children, Larry, Curly, and 
Moe. George uses Windows Explorer 
to create five folders on the C: drive, 
such as C:\GEORGE, C:\MARTHA, 
C:\LARRY, C:\CURLY, and C:\MOE. 
To create this file system in Windows 
9x/Me, go to Windows Explorer by 
right-clicking the Start button and se- 
lecting Explore. In Windows XP, click 
Start, All Programs, Accessories, and 
Windows Explorer. Navigate to the 
place on your hard drive where you 
would like each folder to go (the C: 
drive, for example), click the File 
menu, select New, and select Folder. 
Put a name on each folder that corre- 
sponds to the person who intends to 
use the folder to store files. 

When Curly uses Microsoft Word 
to write a book report, he saves the 
report to his folder. He could also 
use Word to create a new folder 
(called Book Reports) inside his 
main folder; his path to that file 
would then be C:\CURLY\BOOK 



REPORTS\Family Robinson.doc. 
Here, Family Robinson is the name 
of his file, which is stored in the 
Book Reports folder found within 
the Curly folder on the hard drive. 
Of course, there are countless ways 
to set up this kind of division, so feel 
free to experiment. 

There is a problem with this file 
management system: unsecured files. 
With Win9x/Me, one of Curly's bro- 
thers can access, edit, and even delete 
files from Curly's folder. If file security 
doesn't concern you, this method of 
organization is an easy and free way to 
arrange files so that multiple users 
don't clutter up a PC's common sys- 
tem folders (such as My Documents). 
WinXP helps overcome security issues 
by letting users make folders private. 
Right-click the folder and click Sharing 
And Security. Select the Sharing tab 
from the folder's Properties menu 
and put a check in the Make This 
Folder Private box to select it. When 
you apply your changes, the folder 
(and folders under it) will be available 
only to you: Other users cannot access 
your protected folder. However, this 
option isn't available for every folder; 
it's available only for folders under 
your specific user profile (such as 
My Documents). 

Take It With You 

If your PC has a CD-RW (CD- 
rewriteable) drive, that piece of hard- 
ware gives you another file-sharing 
option. You can use common applica- 
tions on the PC, store your work files 
or downloads on a CD rather than the 
PC, and take the disc with you so no 
one can access your files. The disc 
gives you an added element of security 
and a backup, as well. This technique 
extends beyond a CR-RW drive. You 
can use other removable media, such 
as Zip or Jaz disks. These forms of re- 
movable media are ideal if you're 
taking data on the road or intend to 
work on data away from your main 
PC. However, you face greater risks 
with removable media: you could lose 



34 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



If^ Storing Files 



it, someone could steal it, or it can 
suffer damage. 

Keeping data mobile is fine for 
everyday work, but avoid taking your 
sensitive personal information with you. 
For example, you certainly wouldn't 
want to tote around a CD-RW with 
your Quicken files. If you lose the disc, 
you're left without a working copy of 
the file. If the disc is stolen, your per- 
sonal information may wind up in un- 
friendly hands. 

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind 

If you're worried about prying eyes, 
you can change a file's attributes to 
prevent others from altering, or even 
detecting, the file. Files generally have 
four attributes: Read-only, Archive, 
Hidden, and System. Other users can 
open a file marked Read-only but 
cannot make changes to it (though 
they can copy the file and make 
changes to the copy). Some programs 
use an Archive file to create backups; 
it has little value for file security. 
Marking the file as Hidden prevents it 
from being seen in file browsing utili- 
ties such as Explorer. The OS needs 
the System file, and you can't set that 
attribute for most file types. 

To check or change a file's attrib- 
utes, double-click My Computer and 
browse to the drive and folder con- 
taining the desired file. Right-click 
that file, select Properties, and on the 
General tab, check the Read-Only or 
Hidden checkbox to invoke those at- 
tributes. Click Apply and click OK. 
Keep in mind that you can't change 
the attributes of files on write-pro- 
tected media, such as CD-ROM and 
CD-R (CD-recordable). 

Hiding a file isn't enough. You need 
to turn off the system's ability to "see" 
hidden files. In Win9x/Me, double- 
click My Computer, click View, click 
Folder Options, and select the View 
tab. Under the Files And Folders entry, 
you'll see three radio buttons: Do Not 
Show Hidden Files, Do Not Show 
Hidden Or System Files, and Show All 
Files. Select Do Not Show Hidden 



Files, click Apply, and click OK. In 
WinXP, open My Computer and click 
Tools and then Folder Options. Select 
the View tab and check (or uncheck) 
the way in which you'd like to view 
files. Here, select the Do Not Show 
Hidden Files And Folders option, click 
Apply, and then OK. From then on, 
your hidden files should not appear. 

You can get by with hiding your 
sensitive files as a source of security, 
but some utilities hide files and folders 
more effectively than just changing the 
file's attributes. Two notable shareware 
products used for file protection are 
Magic Folders and Folder Guard. PC- 
Magic's Magic Folders (free; www.pc 
magic.com) makes any selected folders, 
and all the files within them, invisible 
to other users. You enter a password to 
restore normal access to all hidden 
folders and files. WinAbility's Folder 
Guard ($39.95; www.winability.com 
/home) lets you hide certain folders 
and restrict user access to system re- 
sources. It makes folders invisible or 
read-only in applications such as 
Explorer, Office, and DOS (as well as in 
common Windows dialog boxes). 

Lock & Key 

Many of today's applications pro- 
vide the tools needed to secure their 
files with passwords. Although this pre- 
vents unauthorized users from fishing 
around in your files, it does not prevent 
those files from being deleted with 




Windows XP lets you make your 
personal folders private so other 
user profiles cannot access them. 



Windows Explorer. You should refer to 
the documentation that accompanies 
each application to learn more about 
how each uses passwords for security. 

All the different passwords you must 
remember make password protection 
somewhat of a hassle. If you use 
the same password for every file and 
someone discovers that password, it 
compromises the security of every file. 
Conversely, you may not remember a 
different password for every file. 

Children, along those same lines, 
are notorious for locating and in- 
voking password features. If you use 
applications that allow for passwords, 
create a set of master passwords for 
those applications and share them 
with your spouse. This prevents your 
kids from locking you out of your 
own programs or files. 

Unauthorized users may try to 
sneak in and use your system once 
you've stepped away for a meeting or 
another errand. To make them guess 
again, enable password protection in 
your screen saver and power manage- 
ment features. 

To enable the screen saver's pass- 
word protection in Win9x/Me, click 
Start, Settings, and Control Panel. 
Open Display and select the Screen 
Saver tab. Select a screen saver and 
check the Password Protected box. In 
WinXP, right-click the Desktop and se- 
lect Properties. In the Display Proper- 
ties dialog box, select the Screen Saver 
tab and check the On Resume, Display 
Welcome Screen option. If someone 
tries to exit your screen saver, the com- 
puter asks that person for a password. 
This forces you to login again using 
your Windows password. 

To protect your system when re- 
covering from a standby or hibernate 
mode in Win98SE (Second Edition), 
open the Control Panel window and 
select Power Management. Click the 
Advanced tab, put a check in the 
Prompt For Password When Com- 
puter Goes Off Standby box, and 
apply the change. In WinXP, right- 
click anywhere on the Desktop and 
click Properties. When the Display 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 35 



(Q Storing Files 



Properties dialog box opens, select the 
Screen Saver tab and click the Power 
button to open the Power Properties 
dialog box. Click the Advanced tab 
and check the Prompt For Password 
When Computer Resumes From 
Standby option. When a user tries to 
access your PC from standby mode, 
Windows asks for a logon password. 

Bug Zapper 

Checking for email and down- 
loading files opens the door for com- 
puter viruses and crackers. Set up your 
PC with a recent antivirus scanner, 
such as McAfee's VirusScan ($39.99; 
www.mcafee.com) or Symantec's 
Norton Antivirus 2005 ($49.95; www 
.symantec.com) to keep your risks of 
infestation at a minimum. These 
packages and others automatically 
scan email and downloads for viruses 
that might otherwise cripple applica- 
tions and damage data. 

High-speed Internet users should 
also install a firewall, such as Zone 
Labs' ZoneAlarm (free; www. zone 
labs.com). A firewall keeps track of 
the communication into and out of 
your PC. This lets you restrict certain 
applications from talking to the 
Internet and blocks sites and potential 
crackers from accessing your PC. 
Once you install a firewall, you can 
use its password feature to prevent 
others from altering your settings. 

Multiuser Settings 

Microsoft designed Windows with 
multiple users in mind; multiuser 
settings let each user customize her 
Windows experience. For example, 
when a user logs onto the system, she'll 
have a customized Desktop: icons, 
background, Start menu, and many 
other unique settings. By enabling mul- 
tiple users, those users tailor Windows 
to their specific tastes and preferences 
without changing the Windows config- 
uration for the other users. 

To enable multiple users in Win9x/ 
Me, click Start, Settings, and Control 



3| 


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1,03^10(1,031, 344 bytes) 
1,03 MB (1 ,,081,344 bytas) 





Created: Monday, July 22, 2002, 5:08:49 PM 

Modified: Monday, July 22, 2002, 5:08:50 PM 

Accessed: Monday, July 22, 2002 



Attribute?: £ a H ,| Hidden Archive 



di: 



~2 Apply 



Open a file's Properties dialog box 
to check or change its Hidden, 
Read-only, or Archive attributes. 

Panel and double-click Users. Click 
New User, and the Add User Wizard 
sets up a profile for the user. In Win- 
dows, you're able to customize fea- 
tures, including the Desktop folder, 
the Documents menu, the Start 
menu, and a Favorites folder. When 
you've finished, restart your PC to ac- 
tivate the new user. You can create as 
many new users as necessary. Once 
you configure the PC for more than 
one user, the current user must log off 
the system through the Shut Down 
menu before a new user can log on. 

The process is similar in WinXP. 
Click Start, open the Control Panel, 
and select User Accounts. In the User 
Accounts dialog box, click Create A 
New Account to add a new user to the 
system. Enter the name for the new 
user and select the level of access to the 
system (such as System Administrator). 
You don't even need to reboot the 
system. To switch users, log off as one 
user, and then another user can log on. 
After logging on, the new user can cus- 
tomize just about any of his settings. 

Keep in mind that multiuser settings 
are intended to let users customize the 
look and feel of Windows without 
changing the setup for all users. If one 
user installs a new game, the icon for 
that new game will appear only on that 
user's Desktop. All users, however, can 
access most files and folders in the PC 
regardless of customized profiles, al- 
though WinXP lets you protect user- 
specific folders, as mentioned earlier. 



Mistakes 

No matter how well you organize 
files or share systems, mistakes happen; 
important files may become damaged 
or deleted. When you discover that 
your important work has been tam- 
pered with, you can take steps to re- 
cover lost files with minimal fuss. 

Check the Recycle Bin. Deleted 
files go to the Recycle Bin where they 
remain until the Recycle Bin is emp- 
tied. If a file you need is missing, al- 
ways check the Recycle Bin first — it 
could be there. If you find the file 
there, highlight the file and click 
Restore from the File menu. You're 
back in business. 

Save corrections and addendums. 
Whenever you make changes to an 
important file, always save a duplicate 
of that file with a new or backup 
name, preferably to a different folder 
or drive (even to removable media, 
such as CD-R/RWs). If the working 
file becomes damaged or deleted, you 
could then open the backup copy and 
keep working without interruption. 

Keep a full system backup. When 
disaster strikes, nothing saves the day 
like a backup of your entire system. 
You can make backups to tape drives 
or other removable media, such as 
CD-R/RWs. Make it a point to create 
complete backups periodically or 
whenever you've significantly altered 
your hardware or software. 

Plan Ahead 

Whether at home or in the work- 
place, multiple users may have to 
share the same PC. Unfortunately, 
sharing can cause problems with se- 
curity, file organization, and even 
system configuration. With a little ad- 
vanced planning, consideration, and 
common sense, multiple users can 
easily share a PC without interfering 
with each other's work or compro- 
mising sensitive information. HI] 

by Stephen J. Bicelow 



36 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Updating Your Info 



The Right Tool 
For The Job 

Some Program Files Just Don't 
Cooperate With Other Programs 



One of the more exasper- 
ating aspects of com- 
puting you're likely to 
encounter is the won- 
derful world of file for- 
mats, especially when trying to open 
and edit old documents. 

Every program on your computer 
that creates any type of data files (such 
as documents, pictures, or sound files) 
has a particular structure for such files. 
When a program saves a file, it encodes 
the file so the program knows what to 
do with its contents when you open the 
file again. This information tells the 
program whether your file is a word 
processing document or a music file, as 
well as which features it uses. 

For example, a presentation pro- 
gram, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, 




equips saved files with information 
such as the screen size you used when 
preparing them. Files must also indi- 
cate the number of colors you used, as 
well as the location of individual slide 
elements, such as music, pictures, or 
video. A database or spreadsheet file in- 
cludes the data you enter but also in- 
cludes information on table structures, 
indexes, views, and forms and may or 
may not include password security 
and/or encryption information. 

The programmers who designed 
your program had reasons for creating 
its file structure the way they did. 
Sometimes, this is a function of the way 
the software displays your document or 
plays your music. Sometimes it's a way 
of keeping track of internal processes 
you don't see, such as special em- 
bedded codes that make the print bold 
or the slide elements animate. Often, 
it's a bit of both. 

As you can imagine, Microsoft's 
programmers came up with a dif- 
ferent way to store information pro- 
duced by Microsoft Word than the 
folks at Corel use for WordPerfect or 
those at Lotus use for WordPro. 

If you only use one set of programs 
and never share your files with anyone 
else, this may never bother you. But if 
you're like most users, you've probably 
upgraded your software one or more 
times over the years. This means you 
may occasionally discover you have to 
view a document created in an earlier 
version of your application, possibly 
one you stopped using years ago. Such 
situations can be a real problem. 



A Little Perspective 

We should point out that file com- 
patibility used to be an even bigger 
problem than it is today. Before the 
advent of MS-DOS, Windows, OS/2, 
and Macintosh computers, there were 
an even larger variety of microcom- 
puters. Kaypro, Osborne, Epson, 
Atari, Commodore, and Apple all had 
their own machines, many of which 
used variations of an OS (operating 
system) called CP/M (control pro- 
gram for microcomputers) developed 
initially by Digital Research. Compa- 
nies often modified the OS to make it 
work better with their hardware. 

For instance, many companies used 
their own proprietary schemes for for- 
matting floppy diskettes. If you wanted 
to share a document created with an 
old word processor called WordStar 
on one of these computers, you first 
had to find and use software to modify 
your floppy drive to read the formats 
of other machines. This could be a 
fairly ugly proposition in some cases. 

Today there are only two broad cat- 
egories of computers: PCs and Macs. 
True, they don't use the same OSes, 
and programs written for one won't 
work on the other without special em- 
ulator software. And, usually, file for- 
mats for one platform aren't the same 
as those used in the other, but there 
are ways to convert them. In addition, 
it's rare today to find a program that 
won't import files from competing 
programs and/or export data in for- 
mats other programs can read. 

Common Ground 

Throughout the next 21 articles in 
this section of the magazine, we'll dis- 
cuss file-specific compatibility issues 
for a number of software applications, 
as well as how to deal with many of 
them. But there are a few more gen- 
eral items you should know first. 

For instance, sometimes you want 
to change a file format for reasons 
other than just getting a WordPerfect 
document to display in MS Works. 
We can think of two reasons right off 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 37 



^J Updating Your Info 



the bat: avoiding macro viruses and 
speeding up transmission time. 

Documents created with programs 
containing their own automation lan- 
guages (such as Word, Excel, Word- 
Perfect, Quattro Pro, and WordPro) 
can also contain inimical instructions 
written in those automation lan- 
guages that can damage other files 
stored on your computer. We call 
such instructions macro viruses, after 
the small programs (or macros) you 
can create to record the keystrokes of 
repetitive tasks and assign them to a 
simpler keystroke combination. 

A macro virus usually travels by 
email, as part of an attached document 
formatted and stored as the type of file 
associated with a specific program. 
The good news is there are a couple of 
ways to create documents that 
are unable to carry viruses. 

Rich Text Format. Most 
word processors and many 
other text-based programs 
(database and spreadsheet ap- 
plications) can both save and 
open files in a generic text 
format called RTF (Rich Text 
Format; such files end in the 
extension .RTF). 

RTF files are useful because 
they preserve quite a bit of for- 
matting information about 
your documents, including 
typeface, styles (such as bold, 
italics, and others), font size 
and color, and so on. RTF files 
will keep tables intact and can 
include embedded graphics 
and pictures. They may also 
preserve columns. What they 
generally don't do is include 
automation code (macros), 
mail merge data, or formatting 
that is unique to a specific 
word processing program. 

When you convert a file to 
RTF, you strip it of most of the 
creating program's proprietary 
code, solving three problems. 
First, the file is physically 
smaller, so it takes up less hard 
drive space and takes less time 



to send via email. Second, no macros 
remain, so files can't harm someone 
else's computer. Third, you can open 
RTF files with virtually any other pro- 
gram that supports RTF imports on 
both PC and Mac computers. 

ASCII. Another option is to con- 
vert your data to the ASCII (Amer- 
ican Standard Code for Information 
Interchange) format. This format 
uses a code representing English al- 
phanumeric characters as numbers. 
ASCII expresses common characters, 
such as spaces, punctuation, num- 
bers from zero to nine, and both up- 
percase and lowercase letters of the 
alphabet, using the numbers from 
to 127 (the highest decimal number 
that can be rendered by 7 bits of 
data). For many years in the early 



Get Some Help 



If you're at your wits' 
end trying to get im- 
portant files to work 
with another program, 
you may want to look 
into some of the spe- 
cialized commercial 
file conversion applica- 
tions out there. There 
are many to choose 
from, but here are a 
few examples: 

Advanced Computer 
Innovations (www 
.acii.com) 

FirstChoice ($129). 

Converts PFS:First- 
Choice database files 
into MS Access, MS 
Excel, FoxPro, Quattro 
Pro, MS Word Merge, 
or WordPerfect 
Merge. ACM offers a 
free trial version. 

WordPort($149). 
WordPort works with 
a wide variety of word 
processor application 
files, but ACM de- 
signed it especially for 



use with recent pro- 
grams. WordPort is 
available as a free trial 



days of computing, these 127 char- 
acters were the sum total of the text 
that could be in an ASCII document. 
The advent of 8-bit computers 
(with an upper decimal limit of 256, 
or to 255) resulted in an extension 
of the ASCII code to include many in- 
ternational characters, such as E and 
I, and symbols such as © and ¥ or ®. 

ASCII text files do not carry for- 
matting information of any kind. But 
because they do carry punctuation 
symbols and special characters, such 
as tabs, they are a popular way to ex- 
change data among database and 
spreadsheet programs. In this case, a 
chosen character (commas and tabs 
or the pipe [|] are favorites) becomes 
a delimiter, separating fields within a 
database record or column bound- 
aries in a spreadsheet row. 

ASCII files are smaller than 
their counterparts, making 
them easy to copy and paste 
into email messages, and they 
eliminate macro virus worries. 



DataViz ($69.99; 
www.dataviz.com) 

Conversions Plus. 

DataViz isn't shy in 
describing this pro- 
gram's capabilities, 
claiming it can "open, 
view, print, and con- 
vert virtually any file." 
The site lists Micro- 
soft Office XP, Word- 
Perfect, Lotus 1-2-3, 
ClarisWorks, and 
AppleWorks in partic- 
ular. The program 
also helps PCs read 
and convert data 
from Mac files. 

iConv (www 
.iconv.com) 

iConv's file format 
conversion site offers 
free online conversions 
from Unix text to DOS 
and vice versa, as well as 
image file conversions. I 



New Converts 

If you need to convert a file 
produced by one program to a 
format that another similar 
program can use, try one of the 
methods below. These steps as- 
sume that both permit you to 
copy and paste and you have 
both installed on your PC. 

Copy and paste. Launch both 
programs and open the file you 
want to convert in the program 
that was used to create it. Place 
your cursor at the beginning of 
the document and select its en- 
tire contents. Depending on the 
program, do this by pressing 
CTRL-A; by manually high- 
lighting the file's contents 
(clicking and dragging across its 
entire contents); by clicking the 
program's Edit menu and 
clicking Select All; or by placing 
the cursor at the top of the doc- 
ument, holding the SHIFT key, 
and pressing CTRL-END. 



38 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Updating Your Info 



Next, click the Edit menu and click 
Copy. (In some programs you can also 
press CTRL-C or CTRL-INSERT.) 
Switch to the application to which you 
wish to transfer the document, open a 
new document, and place the cursor 
at the beginning of the page. Now, 
click the Edit menu and then Paste or 
press CTRL-V or SHIFT-INSERT. 

A few things may go wrong when 
using this approach. One is that what 
you saw in the first document might 
not be what you get in the second. If 
there is a high degree of complexity in 
your original document (such as 
columns, graphics, or numbered or 
bulleted outlines), some formatting 
features may not translate properly. 
Some programs (WordPerfect, for one) 
often substitute their own fonts and 
symbols instead of the standard ASCII 
codes, which may make your docu- 
ment look funny. Additionally, HTML 
(Hypertext Markup Language) fea- 
tures, such as underlined hyperlinks, 
may not transfer properly or at all. 

In such cases try a different method 
that may work better, regardless of 
where the applications are located 
(both on your computer or one on 
yours and another on someone else's). 

Import. This method requires 
some investigation to find out what 
kinds of files the destination program 
can import. Most word processors 
can import files from competing 
products and many include format 
converters. Likewise, many graphics 
applications support graphics file 
types other than their native formats. 

One key piece of information is the 
version number of the source program; 
your destination application may work 
with files from some versions and not 
others. However, it may be able to im- 
port an earlier version, and most prod- 
ucts will let you save your work in an 
earlier file format if there is one. For 
example, WordPerfect 9 won't import 
Word 2000 files but will import Word 
95 files, and Word 2000 lets you save 
your documents as Word 95 files. 

Similarly, Corel's Ventura 8 isn't 
designed to import CorelDRAW 9 or 



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Word processors can often open files created 
by other programs. Many contemporary 
applications have internal routines that help 
them open other file types and automatically 
discern what they are. 

10 files, but it will import files created 
by CorelDRAW version 8. Both 
CorelDRAW 9 and 10 let you save 
your graphics files in the older 
CorelDRAW 8 format. 

Once you've found out what the 
destination program can open, find 
out which formats your source pro- 
gram can export. When you save 
your file, click the File menu and 
then click Save As. If this is the first 
time you've saved it, look at the Save 
As dialog box. Many applications 
have Save As Type drop-down menus 
with choices of formats to use. It's 
usually a good idea to save your file 
in the source program's native format 
first. The native format may contain 
information about your use of the 
program's special features. 

Choices other than the program's 
native format may only appear when 
you select File, Save As. In some cases, 
just to make life interesting, there may 
be a separate File, Export entry instead. 

Save the file in a format you know 
the destination program can open. 

How you open the file in the desti- 
nation program will depend on the 
program and the format you used 
when you originally saved it. If you 
saved your file in the destination 
program's native format, you should 
be able to open it normally. Many 
modern applications also use File, 
Open to open files saved in other for- 
mats. Your program may rely on a 
combination of information in the file 
to tell it how to get the file open and 



which of its built-in converters to use. 
In some cases you may also need to 
look for an Import command in the 
File menu. 

Keep in mind that formats change 
as programs evolve, and going from 
new to old is often harder. For ex- 
ample, you can open a WordPerfect 
4.2 for DOS file in the newest Word- 
Perfect version, but you can't open a 
WordPerfect 10 for Windows file in 
your old DOS word processor. This 
is fairly common because as a soft- 
ware company adds new features, the 
older versions of a program can't 
read the new file structures. 

There are a couple of approaches to 
solving this problem. The first is both 
straightforward and labor-intensive. 
As each new version of a program 
comes out, load and convert all your 
old documents. The second is to only 
convert old documents when you 
need them. This requires less footwork 
but carries with it the risk of having a 
vital document become unavailable. 

Devil In The Details 

Of course, both the conversion 
methods above assume the file you 
want to convert is present on the 
proper form of media. Folks with files 
stored on 8-inch floppies, 5.25-inch 
floppies, Bernoulli cartridges, or 
SyQuest drives have a whole other 
issue to deal with. 

In such cases you may want to en- 
gage a file or disk conversion service. 
The names and faces change in this 
particular industry niche, but if you 
run a keyword search for "file conver- 
sion service" and/or "disk conversion 
service" in your favorite Internet search 
engine, you should find some help. We 
typed disk conversion services at 
Google (www.google.com), for ex- 
ample, and received 10 pages of hits. 

The bottom line is not to get dis- 
couraged if at first your new applica- 
tion won't use files you created with 
older versions or other programs. \M\ 

by Myles White 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 39 



^J Updating Your Info 



Microsoft Word 

Learn What To Expect 
When You Update Your File 




Because the current version of 
Microsoft Word, Word 2003, 
shares a common file format 
with Microsoft Word 97 and later ver- 
sions, you should have no problem 
swapping files among them. Keep in 
mind, however, that each new version 
of Word usually gets a new feature or 
two, so be careful so you don't lose in- 
formation that uses those features. 

Update Your Word Files 

It's easy to update a document cre- 
ated in Word 97, 2000, or 2002 to 



Word 2003. In Word 2003, click the 
File menu, and then click Open. 
Double-click the file to open it and 
then click File and Save As. If you 
want to replace the older version with 
the new one, click Save. If you'd rather 
rename the file to preserve the old ver- 
sion, enter the new name in the File 
Name field and click Save. 

Some of the new features that come 
with Word 2003 include the Reading 
Layout, formatting restrictions, and 
editing restrictions options. The 
Reading Layout displays Word docu- 
ments in a book-like format with 
side-by-side pages. The formatting re- 
strictions feature helps you retain 
structured formatting even if many 
people have edited the document. 
Another new feature is editing restric- 
tions, which lets you state who can 
edit certain portions of a document 
when collaborating with others. 

If you want to share a document 
among multiple versions of Word, dis- 
able the incompatible features. To do 
this, click the Tools menu and select 
Options. Click the Save tab in the 
Options dialog box and select the 



Disable Features Introduced After 
checkbox. Next, select a previous ver- 
sion of Word from the drop-down 
menu and click OK. Because Word 
2000, 2002, and 2003 have similar fea- 
tures, there isn't an option to disable 
features among these versions. 

For users with older versions of 
Word, you may need to install the 
Microsoft Office Converter Pack to 
view documents created in Word 2003. 
You can download the Converter Pack 
online at office.microsoft.com/en- 
us/assistance/HA011513581033.aspx. 
Alternatively, you can save the docu- 
ment as an RTF (Rich Text Format) 
file; click the File menu and Save As 
and then name your document in the 
File Name field and select Rich Text 
Format (*.rtf) in the Save As Type 
drop-down menu. Click Save when 
you're finished. 

Non-Word Documents 

If you are trying to convert a docu- 
ment from a word processor other than 
Word, there are two options. One is to 
use the previously mentioned Micro- 
soft Office Converter Pack to convert 
the file. The other is to open the file in 
Word 2003 and resave it in Word's 
format. To do this, open the File menu, 
and click Open. In the dialog box that 
appears, select the appropriate format 
in the Files Of Type drop-down menu 
and then navigate to the location of the 
file you want to open, select the file, 
and then click Open. 

If Word doesn't list your file's na- 



Are Your Word Files Compatible? 




tive format (the word processor used 
to create it) in the Open dialog box, 


% k lord 2003 has a backward file-compatibility feature that ensures Word 97 
V V and later versions can read and edit your documents without using a con- 
verter. Word 97 may not display some of the advanced features of Word 2003 
correctly, such as editing restrictions. 

There are restrictions on the conversion of documents from Word 2003 to 
Word 6.x and 7.x (aka Word 95) formats. Because Word 6.x and 7.x impose a 
32MB file size limit, a Word 2003 file containing a significant number of graphics 
can cause an error. To resolve this problem, you should break your document 
into 32MB chunks and save them in the Word 6.x/7x format. Microsoft has addi- 
tional documentation regarding incompatible features among Word versions at 




you can still open the file but with a 
little more hassle. You will need to 
open the document in the appropriate 
word processor and save it as either 
an RTF or TXT (text) file. RTF is 
preferable because it will retain your 
formatting, whereas the TXT format 
will not. Once you've converted your 
file to the RTF or TXT format, you'll 
be able to open it in Word 2003. [Ml 


its Help And Support Web site (support.microsoft.com). 1 


by Jennifer Johnson 



40 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Updating Your Info 



Microsoft Excel 

Multiple Versions Make It Easy 
To Save & Upgrade Files 




Upgrading software from one ver- 
sion to another can seem a little 
daunting at times, but moving 
from a previous version of Excel to 
Excel 2003 is really quite simple, as 
long as you know a few things about 
the upgrade process. 



Simple Updates 

Upgrading to Microsoft Excel 2003 
from Excel 2002, 2000, or 97 is painless 
because these versions use a common 
file format. But even with other, older 
versions, all you have to do is open a 
workbook and save it; Excel 2003 will 
automatically update the file so it uses 
the most recent format. 

Go Backward 

In addition to converting files 
from an older format to the new 
format, it's also possible to save a 
new worksheet in the old format so 
that you can share information with 
older versions. To convert a docu- 
ment to an older file format, click 
the File menu and click Save As. In 
the Save As dialog box that appears, 



Compatibility With Previous Versions Of Excel 



Although Excel 2003 uses the same file format as Excel 97, 2000, and 2002, some 
differences do exist among features in the various versions. For example, Excel 
2003 now has additional file permission settings, XML (Extensible Markup Language) 
support, and data list capabilities that may not be compatible with previous versions. 
Other incompatibilities between Excel 2003 and previous versions are as follows: 

Excel 2000 

Excel 2003 does not support the Map tool; files created using the Map tool in 
Excel 2000 may not open in Excel 2003. Additionally, the Subtotal function is new 
in Excel 2003 and will not work with previous versions. 
Excel 97 

Files created in Excel 2003 using the PivotChart reporting option will appear as 
regular charts when opened in Excel 97. Additionally, Excel 97 will modify multiple- 
level category labels and value axis display units. 
Excel 5.0/95 

Because Excel versions 5.0/95 support only 255 characters and 16,384 rows of 
data, they truncate any information beyond these lengths from Excel 2003 files. 
Excel 2003 does not support sound notes from Excel 95. Additionally, users with 
Excel 95 can read, but cannot write to, an Excel 2003 file format. I 



select the appropriate format from 
the Save As Type drop-down menu. 
Excel will let you know right away in 
the event that the version you select 
doesn't support some of the features 
used in your document. 

Excel 2003 also lets you save a 
workbook as a single file in Excel 97 
through Excel 2003 and Excel 5.0 
through Excel 97 formats using the 
dual format option. This feature is 
particularly useful when sharing a 
document with multiple versions of 
Excel. To use this feature, use the 
Save As command on the File menu. 
When the dialog box appears, select 
Microsoft Excel 97-Excel 2003 & 
5.0/95 Workbook (*.xls) from the 
Save As Type drop-down menu. 

Using the dual file format has some 
drawbacks. For example, if an Excel 
5.0/95 user opens a workbook saved 
in the dual format and then resaves 
the document, all of the features 
unique to the Excel 97 through Excel 
2003 format will be permanently lost. 
Furthermore, workbooks using the 
dual format option take up more 
storage space on your PC than a 
workbook in a single format. 

Because newer versions of Excel, 
including Excel 2003, have features 
that are incompatible with previous 
versions, be careful when sharing files 
with older versions of Excel. For ex- 
ample, Excel 2000, 2002, and 2003 
support more than 32,000 characters 
in a cell, but Excel 5.0/95 only sup- 
ports 255. Because of this, you may 
lose some data if you save an Excel 
2003 workbook with lengthy cell en- 
tries in the Excel 5.0/95 format. There 
are also some features in Excel 2003, 
such as pivot tables and conditional 
formatting, that are not supported by 
earlier versions. 

Moving among versions of Excel is 
fairly easy, as long as you know what to 
expect. For more information on Excel 
file compatibility, see Microsoft's Web 
site (www.microsoft.com). [wl 

by Jennifer Johnson 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 41 



^J Updating Your Info 



Microsoft Access 

How Compatible Is Your Database? 




Every version of Microsoft Access 
has contained numerous new or 
modified features, which wouldn't 
be a problem if everybody upgraded to 
the new versions of the program. But as 
we all know, the earlier versions — 
ranging from Access 97 through Access 
2002 — are still alive and well. 

Here's what to look for when work- 
ing with multiple versions of Access. 

Access 97 

You can open Access 97 databases in 
later versions (2000, 2002, and 2003) 
with all Access 97 features in place. The 
reverse is also partially true, as we'll see 
in a moment. You can open a database 
created in Access 95 or 2.0 (and even 
back to 1.0) in Access 97 using the File 
menu's Open command. You can also 
use the Convert command for data- 
bases that don't want to open this way. 
You cannot, however, convert Access 
97 databases to previous formats. 

Access 2000 

Starting with Access 2000, Microsoft 
stopped supporting the DAO (Data 
Access Objects) 2.5/3.X compatibility 



library. This means that databases cre- 
ated with this library, which ensured 
compatibility among databases using 
that version of DAO (and previous 
versions), will not convert properly to 
Access 2000 or later versions. 

Otherwise, Access 97, 95, and 2.0 
databases work seamlessly in Access 
2000. The new toolbar and menu styles 
update automatically (as do macro 
commands) when opened in 2000. 

To convert an Access 2000 database 
to an Access 97 file, use the Database 
Utilities feature (click Tools and Con- 
vert Database) and select Access 97 as 
your format. 

Access 2000 introduced another use- 
ful feature, enabling, which has carried 
through to Access 2003. The Convert/ 
Open Database dialog box (click File 
and Open) offers an option to enable 
rather than convert a database created 
in a previous version. When you do so, 
you do not change any of the data- 
base's underlying code, so users can 
still open it without any problems in 
the version of Access in which it was 
created. However, you can't use the 
newer Access version to modify the de- 
sign of objects, so use this feature for 
backward-compatibility purposes only. 

Access 2002 

Whenever you save a database cre- 
ated in Access 2002, it uses the Access 
2000 file format by default, making it 
easy to transfer files among users of ei- 
ther version. But Access 2002 did add 
some new features, and you'll need to 
convert databases using those features 
to Access 2002. This is as simple as sav- 
ing the file specifically as an Access 
2002 file, but once you do this, Access 
2000 users can no longer open it. 



Access 2002 and 2003 features that 
aren't compatible with Access 2000 in- 
clude PivotTable view, multiple undos 
and redos, the ability to work with 
records without first defining a primary 
key, support for several user-defined 
features in Access projects, increased 
limits for SQL statements, and, above 
all, support for XML (Extensible Mark- 
up Language). If you depend on these 
features in your database, you can kiss 
goodbye the possibility of using Access 
2000 to manipulate them. 

Access 2003 

The most significant addition to ver- 
sion 2003 is its thorough adoption of 
XML, to the degree that a sizeable va- 
riety of functions depend on XML and 
its underlying structures. Even so, you 
can convert Access 2003 files to the 
Access 97, 2000, and 2002 formats 
using the Database Utilties feature in 
the Tools menu. 

As with previous Access versions, 
converting an older Access database 
into Access 2003 format is simply a 
matter of opening it in Access 2003. 
Choose Open from the File menu, lo- 
cate your database file, and, in the 
Convert/Open dialog box, choose 
Convert Database. You can make this 
conversion less error-prone, however, 
by first opening the database in the 
original version of Access and com- 
piling it. To do so, in the original ver- 
sion of Access, open the module in 
Design view. On the Debug menu, 
choose the Compile option. It goes by 
slightly different names in different 
versions. Then open it in Access 2003. 

You can also convert a database by 
importing its objects directly into Ac- 
cess 2003. Doing so stops those objects 
from functioning in the previous ver- 
sion, which might be something you 
wish to do if you're upgrading. How- 
ever, you'll probably need to reset any 
references to the linked libraries, as the 
import doesn't include these, and also 
to data access pages. Us] 

by Neil Randall 



42 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Updating Your Info 



A Look Back With 
PowerPoint 2003 

Preserve Features & Formats 




Whether you created your pre- 
sentation in PowerPoint 95 
or 2002, you'll find that the 
file opens in PowerPoint 2003 
without losing the effects that 
make your slideshow a hit. 
Unfortunately, old versions of 
Microsoft Office's presentation 
software sometimes struggle to 
correctly open the latest file 
types: PowerPoint 2003 offers 
features that don't exist in Pow- 
erPoint 97, for example. We'll 
show you how to sidestep some 
compatibility issues. 

Forward In Reverse 



Although most PowerPoint 
programs use the .PPT exten- 
sion, all PPT files are not the 
same. Microsoft changed the file 
format but not the extension 
when it launched PowerPoint 
97. The company hasn't changed 
the format since, which means 
that PowerPoint 97 and newer 
versions can open PowerPoint 
2003 files without much trouble. 
They won't correctly display fea- 
tures they don't support, of 
course, but you stand to lose 
only features and graphics that 
your older program doesn't sup- 
port: Text generally survives, 
which means the show can go 
on. PowerPoint 95, on the other 
hand, won't open standard 
PowerPoint 2003 files. 

If you know that you'll need 
to open a PowerPoint 2003 file 
in an older version, you can 
avoid some problems by saving 



the file in the older version's file type. 
Simply click File, Save As, and then 
choose the appropriate version from 



PowerPoint Compatibilities 
& Incompatibilities 



Planning to collaborate with users who have older versions of 
PowerPoint? Check the list below to see which PowerPoint 
2003 features might throw their software for a loop. 



PowerPoint 2003 Feature 


In PowerPoint 2002 


Playlist support 


Not supported 


Smart Tags 


Not supported, 

but text is unaffected 


IRM 


IRM-protected files 
don't open 


PowerPoint 2003 Feature 


In PowerPoint 2000 


Password protection 


Password-protected 
files don't open 


Comments 


Invisible 


Animation effects 


Converted to PowerPoint 
2000 effects or not available 


Diagrams 


Converted to a group 
of shapes 


PowerPoint 2003 Feature 


In PowerPoint 97 


Multiple masters 


Not available 


Picture bullets 


Regular bullets 


PowerPoint 2003 Feature 


In PowerPoint 95 


Animated chart elements 


Appear as static 
chart objects 


Custom shows 


Slides appear but cannot be 
used for a custom show 


Play option for CD tracking 


Not supported 


3D effects 


Converted to pictures 


AutoShapes 


Converted to freeform 
shapes or pictures 


Connectors 


Converted to standard lines 


WordArt 


Converted to pictures 


Hyperlinks 

and Action settings 


Lost or converted to pictures 


Macros 


Not supported 



the Save As Type drop-down menu. 
This menu has three standard Pow- 
erPoint options: Presentation (*.ppt), 
which is the latest file type (in- 
cluding version 97 and newer); 
PowerPoint 95 (*.ppt), which 
lets you open your PowerPoint 
2003 presentation in version 95; 
and PowerPoint 97-2003 & 95 
Presentation. The latter is the 
most flexible file type, combin- 
ing both files into one big file. 
This ensures basic compatibility 
with version 95; the file will open 
in 95, but some features may still 
not display correctly. 

PowerPoint 2003 On The Go 

If you rely on presentation 
hosts to supply a computer, you 
might end up with a system that 
lacks even an old version of MS 
Office. But Microsoft added a 
Package For CD option that lets 
you burn your entire PPT file 
onto a CD or store it on a flash 
drive or other removable media. 
And thanks to the new Micro- 
soft Office PowerPoint Viewer 
2003 (free download; office 
.microsoft.com/en-us/assistance 
/HP051919631033.aspx), you 
can play your presentation on 
any system running Windows 
98 or a newer version, regardless 
of whether it has a version of 
PowerPoint installed, fro] 

by Joshua Gulick 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 43 



^J Updating Your Info 



Microsoft 
FrontPage Plays 

Nice 

Web Tools Work Among Most Versions 




To understand the compatibility 
issues between various FrontPage 
versions, it's important to distin- 
guish between the FrontPage client 
and FrontPage Server Extensions. The 
client is where you do your work. In 
other words, it's where you manage 
files, build Web pages, and review re- 
ports. FrontPage Server Extensions en- 
compass a set of programs that run on 
a Web server so that the client can 
better communicate with the server. 
Many of FrontPage's Web manage- 
ment and creation features require that 



the extensions be installed on the server 
in order for the Web page to function 
fully. Until the 2003 release, a new 
Server Extensions release accompanied 
a new client release; FrontPage 2003 is 
the first version to support Windows 
SharePoint Services. There are no spe- 
cific Server Extensions for 2003. 

In general, FrontPage 97, 98, 2000, 
2002, and 2003 are backward and for- 
ward compatible. In FrontPage 2002 
or 2003, you can open and edit pages 
created with earlier versions by 
opening them and saving them in the 
version you're using. Both 2002 and 
2003 will save settings and custom 
components in a file from an earlier 
version of the program. 

You can also open and edit Front- 
Page 2002 or 2003 pages in earlier ver- 
sions, but some newer features won't 
work. For FrontPage 2002, they include 
the photo gallery, top 10 lists, and cus- 
tom link bars. FrontPage 2003 offers 
support for XML (Extensible Markup 
Language), a Web design specification 



FrontPage Compatibility Issues 



You can use FrontPage 2003 to change and improve Web pages created in earlier 
versions of FrontPage, and older versions can modify any HTML (Hypertext Markup 
Language) pages created in FrontPage 2003. Older versions won't support new features 
such as .ASPX pages, Data View Conditional Formatting and Dynamic Web Template. 



Forward Compatibility 

Yes, but can't handle new features 
Yes, but can't handle new features 
Yes, but can't handle new features 
Yes, but can't handle new features 
Not applicable 



FrontPage Version 


Backward Compatibility 


97 


Yes 


98 


Yes 


2000 


Yes 


2002 


Yes 


2003 


Yes 



that provides more flexibility than 
HTML, or Hypertext Markup Lan- 
guage, the Data View Web Part (a new 
Web formatting method), and Dynam- 
ic Web Templates. 

In FrontPage 97 and 98, Microsoft 
installed a personal Web server with 
the client so you could preview the 
Web pages you created. Beginning with 
FrontPage 2000, you can preview Web 
pages without installing the personal 
Web server. If you want to preview fea- 
tures in 2000 and 2002 that require 
server extensions, such as forms or hit 
counters, you can install the personal 
Web server for these recent editions. 

FrontPage Server Extensions and 
Windows SharePoint Services. Micro- 
soft created separate FrontPage Server 
Extensions for FrontPage 97/98/2000/ 

2002 and Windows SharePoint Services 
for 2003. Each version of the Server 
Extensions brings additional function- 
ality to support new features in the 
client program. Although you can use 
earlier versions of the Server Extensions 
with later versions of the FrontPage 
client, older extensions won't support 
the new features of later client versions. 

Although Microsoft recommends 
using FrontPage 2003 in conjunction 
with Windows Server 2003, FrontPage 

2003 Web pages are publishable to any 
server, regardless of whether it has the 
appropriate Server Extensions. You can 
also publish FrontPage 2003 pages to 
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or Web- 
DAV (Web Distributed Authoring and 
Versioning) servers. 

You can still use FrontPage 2002 
Server Extensions with FrontPage 2003, 
but it only has a limited number of fea- 
tures you can't find with Windows 
SharePoint Services. FrontPage 2000 
Server Extensions should support ear- 
lier editions, as well. But we've seen in- 
stances of Web hosting services with 
2000 Server Extensions that cannot 
support the 97 client. It's always smart 
to inquire about compatibility issues 
when selecting a Web hosting service 
for FrontPage Web pages. [Ss] 

BY VlNCE COCLEY 



44 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Updating Your Info 



Update Archived 
WordPerfect Data 

How To Resurrect Old Files 



When a word process- 
ing file is created 
with one version of a 
program but viewed with 
another, sometimes the file 
doesn't display perfectly. Often the 
conversion keeps text intact but loses 
details such as document formatting. 
Corel's WordPerfect has made great 
strides in ensuring that other files open 
properly in WordPerfect 12. We'll 
examine some of the problems you 
might encounter and the best way to 
ensure compatibility. 

Kinder, Gentler WordPerfect Updates 

We found that WordPerfect 12 inte- 
grates very well with the past several 
versions of the program. WordPerfect 
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 all use the same 
file type. When we opened files from 
these earlier versions in WordPerfect 
12, we did not see any differences 
between the appearances of the files in 
the original versions and in v. 12. 

It is easy to open files created in 
older versions of the program. Word- 
Perfect will perform the conversion 
for you. Simply launch Word-Perfect, 
click File, and click Open. If you 
know the file type of the document 
you want to open, you can select it 
from the File Type drop-down menu. 
If you don't know, select All Files 
from the drop-down menu. Then 
browse for the file. Double-click it to 
open it in WordPerfect 12. 

Before you do anything else, save 
the file in WordPerfect 12 format so 
that you are working with the pro- 
gram's native file type. Click File and 
Save As. Then choose WordPerfect 




6/7/8/9/10/11/12 from the File 
Type drop-down menu. 

You can open files from 
other programs, such as 
Word, in the same way. Simply 
click File, click Open, and double- 
click the file you wish to open. Then 
save it as a WordPerfect 12 file before 
you begin editing the document. 
WordPerfect includes conversion 
tools for a variety of programs and file 
formats, all of which you can browse 
in the File Type drop-down menu. 

Potential problems. When you open 
a file through the File menu, it should 
preserve most, if not all, of the format- 
ting. However, there are some elements 
you may lose, particularly from older 
versions of WordPerfect that used a dif- 
ferent file format than v. 12. When you 
import files from programs other than 
WordPerfect, you increase the likeli- 
hood of encountering minor format- 
ting problems. Some of the elements 
you may lose during conversion include 
graphics, comments, hidden text, tabs, 
spacing, and macros. If you lose any 
elements of the original file, you should 
first save the document as a Word- 
Perfect 6/7/8/9/10/11/12 file and then 
make any corrections to the document. 

Save Files For Use With Other 
Versions Or Software 

There are times when you may 
need to send a document to a friend or 
colleague who uses either a different 
program or a different version of 
WordPerfect. To ensure that the recipi- 
ent can open the file, you should use 
WordPerfect's Save As option to 
choose the proper file type. In the File 



Type drop-down menu, select the pro- 
gram and version that the recipient 
uses. For instance, WordPerfect 12 lets 
you save documents in the following 
WordPerfect formats: WordPerfect 4.2, 
5.0, 5.1/5.2, 5.1/5.2 Far East, and 
6/7/8/9/10/11/12. 

WordPerfect 12's Save As option 
also supports a variety of programs and 
formats, such as Ami Pro, ASCII 
(American Standard Code for Infor- 
mation Interchange), Microsoft Word, 
and RTF (Rich Text Format). If you 
don't know what program the recipient 
uses, you may wish to choose a stan- 
dard format, such as RTF, although 
some formatting will likely disappear 
when the recipient opens the file with 
the other software. 

Another problem you may en- 
counter, even if the recipient also uses 
WordPerfect 12, is font incompatibili- 
ty. If you used fonts that the recipient 
does not have installed on the system, 
the text will default to another font. 
You can ensure that both you and the 
recipient see the same fonts by using a 
standard font, such as Times New 
Roman or Arial. If you prefer to use 
special fonts and want your recipient 
to see those fonts, you should place a 
check in the Embed Fonts Using 
TrueDoc checkbox when you save the 
file. This may increase the file size but 
will embed the fonts in the document. 

Expect The Unexpected 

We found that files move between 
versions of WordPerfect with much 
less hassle today than in the past. 
Still, it is difficult to say exactly 
which errors you may encounter 
when converting files between 
WordPerfect 12's format and other 
file formats. You will see that even 
the problems we had were relatively 
minor and were easy to edit. The key 
is to double-check elements such as 
spacing and alignment after you 
convert a file. [H] 

by Kylee Dickey 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 45 



^J Updating Your Info 



Corel Paradox 1 1 

Leave No Format Behind 



You have labored 
away for years on 
Corel Paradox 7 
and created quite an im- 
pressive collection of 
table (DB) files. If you 
decide to upgrade to 
Paradox 11, the current 
version of the software, 
rest assured that you won't lose all of 
your hard work. Also, if you decide to 
make a switch to Paradox 1 1 from a dif- 
ferent database application, Paradox 1 1 
can import files from a number of non- 
Corel applications. Conversely, you can 
use Paradox 1 1 to export your data- 
bases to third-party database formats. 

Corel Paradox 11 is only available 
with the Professional and Student 
and Teacher Editions of WordPerfect 
Office 12. 

Imports Welcome 

Once you import a file to Paradox 
11, it converts data from a different 
format to a Paradox table. To import 
files to Paradox 11, click the File menu 



Supported File Forma 



aradox 



and then Import. This 
opens a dialog box with 
three import options: 
Import, Text Expert, 
and HTML Expert. 
When you click Import, 
the Import Data dialog 
box lets you browse for 
the particular file you 
want to import. It supports the fol- 
lowing formats: Microsoft Access 
97/95/2/1, ASCII Delimited and Fixed, 
dBASE tables, Excel 97/95/5/4/3, Lotus 
1-2-3 vl-2, Quattro DOS, Quattro Pro 
DOS, and Quattro Pro Windows 7- 
9/6/1. Paradox 11 can convert any of 
these files to Paradox tables (DB) or 
dBASE tables (DBF). 

As its name suggests, the Text Im- 
port Expert helps you import ASCII 
text files (CSV and TXT) to Paradox. 
Even though you can use Import to 
import text files, the Text Import 
Expert gives you more options. In the 
Text Import Wizard, click Next and 
select the text file you wish to import. 
(If you know the name and location of 
the file, you can type it in the Name 



Below are a variety of older Paradox file formats and how well they work with 
Paradox 11. Note that you may be able to open some older files in Paradox 11, 
but not all features will be supported. I 



Paradox 2.5 
For DOS: 

Paradox 3.5 
For DOS: 
Paradox 4.5 
For DOS: 
Paradox 4.5 - 8 
For Windows: 

Paradox 9 -10 
For Windows: 



Table files (DB) open directly in Paradox 11 with no incompatibilities; 
Paradox 11 forms (FSL and FDL), reports (RSL and RDL), and graphics 
fields are not supported. 

Table files open directly in Paradox 11 with no incompatibilities; 
Paradox 1 1 forms, reports, and graphics fields are not supported. 
Graphics fields are supported, but forms and reports are not. 

Table files open directly in Paradox 11 with no incompatibilities; 
graphics fields are supported; you can open and modify Paradox 1 1 
forms, but you can't create new tables, forms, or reports. 
Paradox 11 files are fully compatible with Paradox 9 and 10. 



Of Text File box, or you can click 
Browse to find it.) You can also 
specify if the application that created 
the text file was a Windows- or DOS- 
based program. For example, Paradox 
was a DOS-based application until 
version 4.5. After you select the appro- 
priate OS, follow the Expert as it helps 
you customize the text file in Paradox. 
When you're finished, the Text Im- 
port Expert will create a table suitable 
for Paradox 11. 

Similar to the Text Import Expert, 
the HTML Expert gives you advanced 
options for importing HTML files 
(.HTM or .HTML extensions). Para- 
dox takes the relevant data from an 
HTML file and converts it for use in a 
Paradox table. The Wizard will also 
guide you through setting up a Paradox 
table using data from an HTML file. 
Paradox can only import data from 
HTML files that contain tables or lists. 

Exports Available 

Paradox gives you several options to 
export tables you create in Paradox 1 1 
to a number of third-party programs 
(Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, etc.), 
other Corel WordPerfect Office appli- 
cations (WordPerfect and Quattro 
Pro), and older versions of Paradox. 
For certain file formats, Paradox pro- 
vides additional formatting options 
pertinent to the file's format. For ex- 
ample, if you export a Paradox table to 
an ASCII format, you can specify how 
to separate and delimit fields. 

Exporting a table to ASCII is gener- 
ally the easiest way to use a Paradox 
table with a program that Paradox 
doesn't directly export to. If you want 
to export the table to HTML, click 
File and then Publish To HTML. This 
launches the HTML Table Expert. 

Thanks to the ample number of im- 
port/export options Paradox 11 pro- 
vides, you shouldn't have to worry that 
your meticulously crafted database 
files will be lost in translation if you 
decide to upgrade. [S|] 

BY VlNCE COCLEY 



46 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Updating Your Info 



Corel Quattro Pro 
File Crunching 

Cut Through The Numbers 



As with Microsoft, Corel 
bundles its office pro- 
grams into a suite: 
WordPerfect Office 12. The 
package includes Quattro Pro 
12, the latest version of Corel's 
number-crunching spreadsheet soft- 
ware. Unlike some office programs, 
which use import wizards to convert 
files from older versions or other pro- 
grams, Quattro Pro handles the con- 
version when it saves the file. 

Convert to QPW. Quattro Pro ver- 
sions 9 through 12 use the QPW file 
format, which means that you'll see 
these programs' files right away when 
you click File, Open, and navigate to 
the folder in which you save Quattro 
Pro files. Once you find the file you 
need, select it and click Open. The 
Open File tool hides other file types 
from view, but you can display the 
files by selecting the File Type drop- 
down menu. The menu lets you dis- 
play WB2 (Quattro Pro 6) or WP3 
(Quattro Pro 7/8) files and also lets 
you display all Quattro Pro file types. 

The Open File tool also lets you dis- 
play other files that Quattro Pro sup- 
ports, including XLS (Microsoft Excel), 
123 (Lotus 1-2-3), and WPD (Word- 
Perfect Document). You can also select 
All Files to display a folder's contents, 




but keep in mind that Quat- 
tro Pro may not open some 
of the files. If your file's 
format doesn't appear in the 
File Type list, you may be out of 
luck. If you're unsure whether 
Quattro supports a file, use the Open 
File tool to find it and then click Open. 
If Quattro Pro can't read the file, it will 
display an Unknown File Format mes- 
sage and won't damage your file. 

By default, Quattro Pro saves your 
file to its original format (including 
older Quattro Pro formats), which 
means that clicking the Save icon won't 
save the file to the QPW format. If you 
want to permanently convert the file to 
the QPW format, you'll need to click 
File, Save As. Quattro then places its 
QPW format in the File Name drop- 
down menu, which means you can 
simply click Save to finish the process. 

Quattro Pro 8. Thanks to some for- 
matting codes hiding in some Quattro 
Pro 7 spreadsheet cells, you'll find that 
your printer spits out extra, blank 
pages when printing a Quattro Pro 7 
spreadsheet via Quattro Pro 8. Nix this 
problem by highlighting the document 
and then clicking Edit, Clear. You 
probably won't run into this problem 
in newer versions of Quattro Pro, but 
you can clear cells via the same steps. 



ssues 



Unfortunately, Quattro Pro still completely fails to recognize some third-party 
spreadsheet files. This inflexibility isn't unique, though — other spreadsheet ap- 
plications suffer the same compatibility issues. We were surprised to find that 
Quattro Pro doesn't support SXC, Sun StarOffice 7's Spreadsheet format. Thus, you'll 
face the Unknown File Format message if a StarOffice user sends you a file. To make 
matters worse, StarOffice doesn't recognize Quattro Pro's QPW file format, either. I 



Excel to Quattro Pro. Previous ver- 
sions of Quattro Pro sometimes failed 
to recognize MS Excel spreadsheet 
names, but we opened several XLS files 
with Quattro Pro 12 without losing the 
original file name. Quattro Pro also 
correctly displayed the results for all of 
the Excel test spreadsheet's formulas, 
including AutoSum, Average, and 
some more complicated financial func- 
tions. However, Quattro was unable to 
display hyperlinks. If your XLS file con- 
tains a hyperlink, Quattro Pro displays 
a message that says it can only display 
the formula's value. 

If Quattro Pro won't let you add 
columns to an XLS file, click Tools, 
Settings, and then click Compatibility 
in the Options window's Application 
tree. Next, enter a number higher 
than 256 in the Columns section. 

Lotus 1-2-3 to Quattro Pro. Quat- 
tro Pro supports version 9.8 of IBM's 
Lotus 1-2-3 as well as older versions, 
including 97 and other 9.x versions. 
Older versions of Quattro Pro some- 
times struggled with Lotus 1-2-3 
spreadsheets. When they opened 1-2- 
3 spreadsheets that contained certain 
functions, they would display accu- 
rate values but would not include the 
functions. Quattro Pro 12 handled all 
of the Lotus 1-2-3 functions that we 
tried, including the SIN function. 

Old habits die hard. If you've spent 
years using Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1- 
2-3, you may find yourself opening the 
wrong menus when you use special fea- 
tures. If you prefer the look of one of 
the other programs, you can change 
Quattro Pro's interface to match the fa- 
miliar program. To switch interfaces, 
click Tools and then Workspace Man- 
ager. Check your favorite program and 
then click OK. A streamlined Work- 
space Manager appears after you install 
WordPerfect. This version won't let 
you add or remove individual features, 
so if you want more control over the 
spreadsheet's appearance, simply ig- 
nore it and open the Workspace 
Manager through the Tools menu, fro] 

by Joshua Gulick 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 47 



lQ Updating Your Info 



Get Better With 
Tlie Old & New 

Corel Presentations File Management 



Many makers 
of office soft- 
ware include 
popular programs in 
suites that let you cov- 
er most of your office 
needs, and Corel isn't one 
to buck this trend. WordPerfect 
Office 12 Standard Edition, the latest 
version of its office software suite, in- 
cludes WordPerfect, Quattro Pro, and 
Presentations 12. WordPerfect Office 
Professional Edition adds a database, 
called Paradox. Presentations 12 
opens older versions of its files via an 
Import tool and lets you save the pre- 
sentation to its original format or con- 
vert it to the new format. 

Corel Presentations 10 didn't auto- 
matically load all of the program's 
conversion files during installation, 
which meant that users sometimes 
couldn't open files that the software 
supported. Presentations 12 loads all 
conversion files when you use the stan- 
dard installation process. If you have 
plenty of hard drive space and want 
every component of Presentations 12 
on your system, select the Customized 
Installation button in the installation 
wizard. Next, click the WordPerfect 
Office 12 button and select This Fea- 
ture, And All Subfeatures, Will Be 
Installed On Local Hard Drives. 

Corel Presentations 7. Presen- 
tations 7 doesn't play well with 
newer versions, which means that if 
you want to open a new file (for ex- 
ample, a Presentations 12 file) in this 




older program, you 
may find that the pre- 
sentation doesn't open 
correctly because it 
lacks certain compo- 
nents. That's not too sur- 
prising — publishers 
generally attempt to make new 
software compatible with files from 
older versions of their software, but 
they can't easily predict what future 
files will require. Thus, the only fix 
for this problem is to upgrade to a 
newer version of Presentations. 

Corel Presentations 8. As it turns 
out, Presentations 8 has a weird 
quirk that prevents it from printing 
some EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) 
graphics that are larger than 65KB 
when it opens files from older ver- 
sions. You can export the EPS file to 
one of WordPerfect's other compo- 
nents and then print it via that 
component, but you can skip this 
problem entirely by upgrading to the 
latest version of WordPerfect. 

StarOffice to Corel Presentations. 
Sun StarOffice is another player in the 
office suite market, but StarOffice and 
WordPerfect Office aren't entirely 
compatible. Corel's Quattro doesn't 
support StarOffice Spreadsheet files, 
so we weren't surprised to find that 
Presentations doesn't support Star- 
Office Presentation files. In fact, we 
found that Corel Presentations re- 
jected StarOffice files that had been 
saved to PPT (Microsoft's Power- 
Point format). 



PowerPoint To Corel Presentations 

We ran into two problems when we 
imported a PowerPoint 2003 file into 
Presentations 12. Presentations discov- 
ered that the PowerPoint file included 
the Book Antiqua font. Presentations 
doesn't support the font, so it displayed 
a message indicating that it would 
switch the font from Book Antiqua to 
Times New Roman. When we accepted 
the change, the file opened without 
changing the text. The other minor 
glitch was our chart — the program 
added a label that we easily removed. 

We noticed that Presentations 12 
imported PowerPoint files without 
losing bullets. Previous versions of 
Presentations sometimes had trouble 
importing bullets with PowerPoint files 

Convert to SHW. Converting files 
from older versions of Presentations or 
from other presentation applications is 
a breeze. Simply open the file and then 
click the Save icon. By default, the File 
Type field displays Presentations Slide 
Show 7/8/9/10/11/12, which adds the 
SHW extension to your file name. If 
you want to use your file as presenta- 
tion template, choose Presentations 
Master 7/8/9/11/12 (MST). H 

by Joshua Culick 



Switch Gears 



If you use Microsoft's PowerPoint 
presentation software more often 
than Presentations, you may find 
that you're more comfortable with 
PowerPoint's interface. As it turns 
out, Presentations has a feature that 
lets former PowerPoint users ease 
into the Presentations pool. When 
Presentations starts, a window lets 
users choose between the standard 
Presentations Mode and Microsoft 
PowerPoint Mode. Not surprisingly, 
PowerPoint Mode changes toolbars 
and other visual features to match 
PowerPoint. You can switch be- 
tween modes at any time by clicking 
Tools, Workspace Manager. I 



48 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



^J Updating Your Info 



Microsoft Money 

2005 

Keep Your Financial Data In Check 



Each year, as Microsoft updates its 
popular personal finance pro- 
gram, users begin an annual mi- 
gration from the old version to the 
next. MS Money contains several tools 
to help facilitate transferring data be- 
tween versions, but that can lead to 
some problems. You may be upgrading 
from an older version of Money to MS 
Money 2005 or you may need to work 
on a couple of computers, each with a 
different version of MS Money. You'll 
need to convert those old fdes to the 
new format. 

Old To New 

The simplest way 
to convert those old 
MS Money files to 
Money 2005 is to 
open the old file and 
resave it in the latest 
format. From the 
File menu, select Open and click the file 
you want to convert. MS Money 2005 
will convert any older Money file to the 
newer format when you open it. 
Choose the All Money Files option 
from the Files Of Type field to make 
sure you can see older formats. 

If this conversion technique won't 
work, use the QIF (Quicken Inter- 
change Format) export/import tool to 
move your data. Though introduced by 
MS Money's archrival Quicken from 
Intuit, the QIF standard format is MS 
Money's native tool for importing and 
exporting raw data in a format 
common to all its versions. You have to 
export accounts one by one from the 




old version and can't export closed ac- 
counts or loans, but the process still 
beats re-creating all your data by hand. 
In your previous version of Money 
(you'll have to reinstall the older pro- 
gram if you've removed it), select 
Export from the File menu and choose 
the Loose QIF option. Choose a loca- 
tion and name for the file and export 
each account in turn. In MS Money 
2005, import the file by opening the 
File menu, clicking New, and creating a 
new Money file. Walk through the 
setup and create a 
new account (with a 
zero balance) for 
each QIF file you'll 
import. Choose Im- 
port from the File 
menu and then 
select Recover Ac- 
counts. Select all the 
files you want to im- 
port (holding the 
CTRL key while selecting each one) 
and import them all at once. Click the 
Import button, match each QIF fde to 
its appropriate account, and click OK. 

New To Old 

Older versions of MS Money don't 
automatically convert files, but moving 
data from MS Money 2005 to an older 
version follows the same QIF export/ 
import process. Whether you're re- 
verting to an older version of MS 
Money on the same PC currently run- 
ning MS Money 2005 or moving data 
files between PCs running different 
Money versions, start by making a 



Version Backup Files 



Microsoft Money automatically 
converts older MS Money files 
to MS Money 2005. But each version, 
saves its backup files with a different 
file extension. Knowing how to find 
the backup files for any given version 
will make it easier for you to find and 
move data between versions. I 



Version 


Extension 


Money 1.0 


.mn1 


Money 2.0 


.mn2 


Money 3.0 


.mn3 


Money 4.0 


.mn4 


Money 97 


.mn5 


Money 98 


.mn6 


Money 99 


.mn7 


Money 2000 


.mn8 


Money 2001 


.mn9 


Money2002 


.m10 


Money 2003 


.mil 


Money 2004 


.m12 


Money 2005 


.m14 



backup fde of your data and exporting 
each account to its own QIF fde. 

To revert entirely to a previous ver- 
sion of MS Money, uninstall Money 
2005 and reinstall the earlier version. If 
you converted the older version's data 
to MS Money 2005, you can return the 
data to its original form, but you'll lose 
any data entered since you converted it 
to the newer format. Search the current 
data file's folder for the backup MS 
Money created during the conversion 
process. The sidebar in this article lists 
the backup fde extensions for every MS 
Money version. Rename the backup 
fde with a MNY extension and open it 
in the older version of MS Money. 

For ongoing transfers between ver- 
sions of MS Money, create QIF fdes for 
each account in MS Money 2005. 
Transfer the files via a network or 
portable storage to the PC running the 
early Money version and import each 
by clicking Fde, and then Import, fol- 
lowing the instructions above. \M1 

by Gregory Anderson 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 49 



(Q Updating Your Info 



Intuit Quicken 

Match Account Balances & Information 
After Upgrading 



Q 



uicken 

has gone 

through 
plenty of versions 
since Intuit first in- 
troduced the pro- 
gram in 1984. You 
probably don't have 20 
year-old checking account 
records lying around, but you may 
have some financial data in older 
Quicken formats that you'd like to 
move to Quicken 2005. Or perhaps you 
upgraded to Quicken 2005 and decided 
to revert to an older version. Whatever 
your situation, we'll show you what's 
possible (and what isn't) in converting 
files among Quicken versions. 

Converting from old to new versions 
of the same application is easier than 
going in reverse. That's because com- 
panies can build filters into newer ap- 
plications, knowing how past file 
versions operated. Trying to get older 
applications to recognize newer for- 
mats is a tougher proposition. You're 
not without tricks to move data from a 
new program to an older version — just 
realize that you may lose formatting, 
new program features, and sometimes 
new data when going backward. In any 
case, the larger the leap between two 
versions of a program, the greater the 
risk of sacrificing functionality or data. 

Old To New 

If you're upgrading from an older 
version of Quicken to the 2005 




edition, it's easy 
to convert files. 
First, create a 
backup of your 
old data. When 
you install Quicken 
2005, the Quicken 
Guided Setup will auto- 
matically convert any older 
Quicken files it finds to the latest 
version of Quicken. And if you have 
older Quicken data files saved from 
other versions or saved on other PCs, 
you can convert them from within 
Quicken 2005. From the File menu, 
select Open, find the file you want to 
convert, and click OK. Save the file, 
and Quicken will update it. Quicken 
2005 recognizes all previous formats 
from Quicken for Windows. 

If you want to import specific 
types or portions of data, use a QIF 
data file. QIF (Quicken Interchange 
Format) is a specially formatted text 
file containing account, transaction, 
and other data. Export a QIF file 
from the older version using the 
Export option in the File menu. 
Then, in Quicken 2005, back up 
your existing data file (click File and 
then Backup) and select Import and 
then QIF File from the File menu. 
Find the location of your QIF file in 
the Location Of QIF File field and 
then select the account to import 
into from the resulting dialog box. 
Finally, select the data elements to 
be included (such as transactions or 
categories) and click Next. 



New To Old 

Going from Quicken 2005 to pre- 
vious versions isn't so simple. In fact, 
Quicken doesn't natively support con- 
version of newer files to older ver- 
sions. But if you convert an old file 
to a new file, Quicken saves a copy 
of your old file. Simply uninstall 
Quicken 2005, reinstall and launch the 
old version, and choose Restore 
Backup File from the File menu. If 
you need to revert to a previous ver- 
sion of Quicken, uninstall Quicken 
2005, reinstall and launch the old ver- 
sion, and choose Restore Backup File 
from the File menu. Your original file 
will be saved in a in a subfolder (titled 
Q04files, for Quicken 2004 files, for 
example) of the original file's location. 

The QIF file trick that works for 
importing old data into Quicken 
2005 also works the other way 
around. First, export your data from 
Quicken 2005. Select the Export op- 
tion from the File menu, choose QIF 
File, and save the file. Select an ac- 
count in the Quicken Account To 
Export From list and enter the date 
range you wish to include. Select 
data options for the QIF File (such 
as transaction, categories, Mac for- 
matting) and click OK. Open a pre- 
vious version of Quicken and use the 
import tool (found under the File 
menu) to pull the data in. 

Finally, Quicken offers a new ex- 
porting feature for report data. The 
Export To Microsoft Excel tool lets 
you output data from any report in a 
spreadsheet format, which you can 
manipulate and save into any other 
raw data format in Excel. Display the 
report you'd like to export and, from 
the Export Data menu, choose the To 
Excel Compatible Format option. The 
Excel tool limits you to data available 
in Quicken's standard reports, but it 
will let you keep that information 
electronic, so you won't have to re- 
enter everything manually, [lis] 

by Gregory Anderson 



50 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Updating Your Info 



Adobe 
PageMaker 

Ease The Process Of Sharing Publications 
Among Versions 



s 



haring Adobe PageMaker publi- 
cations among varying versions 
can be a harrowing process at 
first glance. But recent versions of 
PageMaker have simplified the old- 
to-new conversion process, thanks to 
tools and plug-ins. 

Nonetheless, tackling older files can 
still require a dose of fiddling to attain 
the desired results. And for those of us 
who still use aged PageMaker versions, 
there are a few tricks to extracting 
content created in newer versions. 

Mine That Old-Version Gold 

When Adobe released PageMaker 
7.0.1, it resolved a number of file-com- 
patibility problems in the professional 
page layout program. The Publication 
Converter plug-in that converts Page- 
Maker 4.0 through 6.0 files to 6.5 files 
(version 7.0 can open 6.5 files natively) 
had a bug; when attempting to batch/ 
convert PageMaker 6.5x files, Page- 
Maker deleted the 6.5x files, and you 
had neither 6.5x nor 7.0 files. The 7.0.1 
update fixed that bug, and you no 
longer have to convert 6.5 files. 

In practice, the Publication Con- 
verter works well, preserving most font 
and formatting data. Some graphs and 
charts are reproduced accurately, while 
others (especially complex items) can 
be jumbled. The converter offers a 
Replace Publications option to over- 
write the file you are converting; 
Adobe (wisely) recommends you leave 
this option deselected, so you'll have 
the original available as a backup. 



Several differences 
are apparent in older 
file conversions. Colors 
for instance, may differ 
when printed in the con- 
verted publication. Accor- 
ding to Adobe, this is due 
to an improved algorithm 
in PageMaker 6.x that 
converts RGB (red-green- 
blue) values to CMYK 
(cyan -magenta-yellow- 
black). To make sure the 
same color values used in PageMaker 
4.x or 5. Ox print from the converted 
publication, Adobe recommends set- 
ting the default color model in the 
publication before converting. Color 
tweaking may be necessary after a 
conversion to ensure consistency. 

Smooth The Bumpy Conversion 
Road. 

Outdated links are another potential 
conversion hazard. Graphic-intensive 
publications are the most likely to 
cause frustration. If you're converting 
PageMaker publications that are sev- 
eral years old, what are the chances you 
have graphs, charts, or other artwork 
originally linked to the publication? If 
you were ever desperate for space, hard 
drive housekeeping may have done 
away with those files long ago. So be 
prepared to re-create missing elements. 

A typical PageMaker conversion 
problem (also shared by its PDF 
[Portable Document Format] cousin) 
is erratic text line breaking. Tedious as 




it may be, looking for and repairing the 
breaks in the conversion is easy 
enough. Also, some PageMaker ver- 
sions tend to have looser text tracking 
than others (5.0x is looser than 4.x, for 
instance), so expect possible version- 
to-version changes. Of course, erratic 
text also could be due to missing fonts, 
which is yet another (strong) possibility 
when resurrecting an old publication. 
PageMaker 6.5 and 6.51 
users may run into prob- 
lems with multiple master 
pages when converting 
6. Ox pubs. Although 
multiple master pages 
may be listed in the 
Master Pages palette in the 
converted file, master page 
items could be missing 
from publication pages. 

PageMaker 6.5 and 7.0 
users may also run into 
trouble when opening an 
object library created in 
version 6. Ox or earlier; 
however, version 7.0.1 
now opens PageMaker 6.5 library files. 
Plus, Adobe's PageMaker 3.x 
Converter transforms PageMaker 3.x 
publications to version 4.0. This con- 
verter is essentially a stripped-down 
version of Aldus PageMaker 4.0. 

If you need to exchange publica- 
tions with other users, you need to 
know how to access newer publica- 
tions. Naturally, there are a few tricks 
to forward compatibility. In version 4.0 
or older, you won't be able to open a 
file created in version 5.0 or newer 
(PageMaker won't even recognize it). 
To access a modern publication, the 
data (art and text) needs to be ex- 
tracted from the publication (by the 
user of the new version) and subse- 
quently rebuilt in the older version. 

If you're using version 5.0 and re- 
ceive a publication from version 6.0 
or newer, the same process applies. 
However, if you have access to ver- 
sion 6.0, you can save files in that ver- 
sion as version 5.0. [S] 

by Christian Perry 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 51 



(Q Updating Your Info 



QuarkXPress 6.5 

Don't Let A Little Incompatibility Hamper 
Your Creativity 




Since its inception in 1981, the 
fine people at Quark have been 
analyzing ideas to help pub- 
lishers and designers make articles 
like this one look as cutting edge and 
professional as possible. Although 
the release schedule of new versions 
is sporadic at best (users waited 
nearly 5 years between the release of 
QuarkXPress 4.1 and QuarkXPress 
5.0), this hasn't stopped Quark- 
XPress from becoming one of the 
most popular desktop publishing 
programs ever. 

In November 2004, just a shade 
over a year from the release of 
QuarkXPress 6.0, Quark released its 
latest update for the design software, 
QuarkXPress 6.5. Let's take a look at 
how QuarkXPress 6.5 works with a 
variety of files. 

Compatibility 

As you might expect, Quark- 
XPress 6.5 is backwards compatible, 
meaning that you can open files 
from older versions of QuarkXPress 
in QuarkXPress 6.5. QuarkXPress 
6.5 can open files that are saved as 



QuarkXPress 3, 4, 5 and 6 files. If 
you have version 6.5 at work and 
version 5.0 at home, you can open 
your home-brewed Quark files at 
work. But what about working on 
QuarkXPress 6.5 files on an older 
version of QuarkXPress? Quark- 
XPress 6.5 lets you save your docu- 
ment not only as 6.5 files, but also as 
QuarkXPress 5 files, so you can 
transfer and save files easily between 
the two versions. 

Converting New To Old 

QuarkXPress 6.5 will not only up- 
date old QuarkXPress files to the 
new 6.5 format, but you can also save 
your QuarkXPress 6.5 files so that 
they are compatible with an older 
version of QuarkXPress. Although 
you won't be able to open 6.5 files in 
QuarkXPress 3.3, you do have the 
option to save 6.5 files in a format 
compatible with QuarkXPress 5. 

To save a QuarkXPress 6.5 file so 
that it will open in QuarkXPress 5, 
click File and then Save As. You can 
also press CTRL-SHIFT-S. The Save 
As dialog box will appear on your 



screen. Next, select a location to save 
the file. Once you select a location to 
save your file, click the drop-down 
arrow in the Version window. The 
default file version is 6.0, so you 
need to select 5.0 to change the file 
type to the older version. You may 
notice that as you click 5.0, the file 
type changes in the Save As Type di- 
alog box. It automatically shifts from 
a QXP (QuarkXPress Project) file, 
the default document for Quark- 
XPress 6.5, to a Document file. 
Finally, click Save to save this as a 
QuarkXPress 5 document. [Ss] 

by Sam Evans 



Importing Text Files 



i 



m porting text into QuarkXPress is 
a basic function that every user 
should be able to use easily. After all, 
the text is the cornerstone of your 
entire project, so who wants to 
waste time dealing with compati- 
bility issues between QuarkXPress 
and her word processor? 

Each version of QuarkXPress sup- 
ports a number of text file formats, 
though as you may expect, some 
work better than others. Though 
older versions of QuarkXPress may 
give you a fit or two when you try to 
import text, our text importing ex- 
periences with QuarkXPress 6.5 were 
rather pleasant. It handled a TXT 
(Text) file from Notepad, a DOC 
(Document) file from Micro- 
soft Word 2003, and a WPD 
(WordPerfect Document) from 
WordPerfect 12 just fine. However, 
you can rarely go wrong using a RTF 
(Rich Text Format) file. You can im- 
port text in this format into any ver- 
sion of QuarkXPress and it should 
remain intact. In addition to the 
QuarkXPress compatibility, the RTF 
format is available in just about 
every recent version of popular 
word processors. I 



52 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



^J Updating Your Info 



Get The Picture 

Understanding Graphics Formats 




Although .GIF, .BMP, JPG, and 
.TIF sound a lot like secret agent 
codes James Bond might use, 
these graphics file extensions actually 
represent some of the most common 
graphics formats you'll encounter as a 
computer user. For the uninitiated, it 
can be easy to get caught in the graph- 
ics format quagmire. In this article, 
we'll guide you through the alphabet 
soup of graphics formats so you can 
decipher graphics file extensions like 
secret agent men and choose the best 
graphics format for your needs. 

Two Main Classes 

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty 
details, you'll find it helpful to under- 
stand that there are two main classes 



of graphics formats: bit map 
and vector. (A third, lesser- 
used type, metafiles, com- 
bines bit-mapped and vector 
\ formats.) Bit maps, some- 

times called pixel or raster 
graphics, are the kind of 
graphics you'll find around 
every corner, from pictures 
on the Web to those you can 
create in a paint program. 
When you open a digital pho- 
tograph, for example, you're 
most likely viewing a bit-mapped 
image. In contrast, drawing pro- 
grams, such as CAD (computer- 
aided drafting), produce images 
using the vector graphics format. 
Bit map. Bit-mapped graphics 
work well as photographs and in 
paint programs. This type of 
graphics format works by dividing 
an image into a grid of tiny blocks 
(pixels) and then assigning a color, 
shading, and intensity value to each 
block. Although each individual pixel 
can only display one color and inten- 
sity, a picture can include hundreds or 
even thousands of them. 

Bit-mapped graphics have a couple 
of inherent problems, one being a loss 
of definition if you enlarge or reduce 
the size of a bit-mapped graphics file. 
Here's how it happens: The program 
you use to scale bit-mapped images 
likely employs one of two methods. 
The first process involves stretching 
(or squishing, if you're reducing the 
image size) the pixels as you scale the 
image without changing the number 
of pixels in the image. This can result 
in jagged edges. The second method 
actually strips away the "less impor- 
tant" pixels to scale down the image. 



As you can imagine, this process 
(called decimation) can also produce 
a poor-quality image. 

Think of it this way: Each bit- 
mapped image is like a mosaic with a 
set number of tiles. If you enlarge the 
mosaic, the tiles appear spread out, 
and the edges become jagged. When 
you make the bit-mapped image 
smaller, you "throw out" some of the 
tiles, which also makes the mosaic 
lose definition. 

To minimize this problem, you can 
increase the graphic's resolution to a 
higher number of dots per inch to pro- 
duce a more distinct image. For ex- 
ample, 300dpi (dots per inch) digital 
photos will resize more accurately and 
show more detail than those taken at 
72dpi; 600dpi printed images will be 
sharper than those printed using 
300dpi settings. 

One of the other problems with 
bit-mapped graphics files is that they 
can eat up storage space because of 
their hefty file size. You can get 
around this problem by compressing 
(condensing) bit-mapped files with a 
compression utility such as WinZip. 
In fact, compressing images is essen- 
tial if you plan to use them on a Web 
page or send them via email because 
email clients only permit a limited 
amount of space for messages; an un- 
compressed Web image would take 
too long for most users to download. 
Both GIF (Graphics Interchange 
Format) and JPEG (Joint Photo- 
graphic Experts Group) files are com- 
pressed types of bit-mapped files that 
are common on the Web. We'll talk 
more about these formats a little later. 

Vector. Although vector graphics are 
less common than bit-mapped graph- 
ics, they are king for high-end drawing 
and design programs such as Auto- 
CAD. CAD programs and architectural 
renderings use relatively simple geo- 
metric shapes and shading, making 
them a good match for the vector file 
formatting. Additionally, because 
vector graphics are developed using 
mathematical formulas, they tend to 
produce smooth lines and curves. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 53 



^J Updating Your Info 



Enlarging 
distortion 



The main advantage of using vector 
graphics? You can easily reduce or en- 
large the drawings without making the 
image skewed or producing rough 
edges. Also, vectors don't gobble up 
memory or storage space as greedily as 
bit-mapped files do. However, you 
can't dip into the color and 
shading nuances that you can 
in many paint programs. 

Where The Formats Fit 

Now you know that the bit- 
mapped format is best for 
photos and other images with 
gradual changes in shading, 
and that color and vector 
graphics work better for de- 
sign programs because users 
can scale them without distor- 
tion. Here's a look at some of 
the most common graphics 
formats in these classes. 

BMP. A .BMP extension 
indicates the bit-mapped file 
format. Users can save, open, and edit 
graphics saved in the BMP format with 
many Microsoft Windows programs. 
Given the popularity of the Windows 
operating system, it makes sense that 
this is a widely used graphics file 
format. There's a dark side to this file 
format, though: It's uncompressed, 
which means BMP files take up a lot of 
storage space as they keep track of all 
those individual pixels. 

TIFF. Another popular uncom- 
pressed bit-mapped file format is TIFF 
(Tagged Image File Format). Designed 
to be nearly universally supported by 
graphics programs, TIFF files are great 
for transferring images between pro- 
grams. An extremely flexible and 
widely supported file format, it sup- 
ports any size, resolution, or color 
depth you can throw at it. Aldus and 
leading scanner vendors originally de- 
veloped TIFF. Most graphics programs, 
such as PowerPoint and Adobe Photo- 
shop, can save files using this format. 

However, the many flavors of TIFF 
can lead to incompatibilities between 
programs, even those applications that 



tote TIFF compatibility. Additionally, 
as an uncompressed format, TIFF 
requires ample space and memory, es- 
pecially if you're working with high- 
resolution color images. 

GIF and JPEG. If you surf the Web, 
you have viewed images that use GIF or 




a graphic that uses the bit-mapped format can result 
and jagged edges. 



JPEG formats. These formats use com- 
pression so that the resultant files are 
smaller and download more quickly 
than their uncompressed counterparts. 
In fact, the GIF format was originally 
designed by CompuServe to speed up 
transferring graphics files online. This 
graphics format works best for images 
with only a few distinct lines and 
colors, such as cartoons or illustrations. 

Like GIF, the JPEG file format also 
compresses graphics files , sometimes 
shrinking a file's size down to 5% of the 
original. How much compression an 
image can achieve, however, depends 
heavily on the original image. For ex- 
ample, a simple black-and-white 
drawing can be squished much smaller 
than a complex, photo-quality image. 

JPEG-compressed files actually lose 
some of their colors during the conver- 
sion, a procedure known as lossy com- 
pression. The image actually loses data 
during the process. In short, you trade 
image quality for a smaller file size. But 
most imaging programs let you control 
the amount of compression. You'll no- 
tice the decreased image quality the 



most when you use JPEG to compress 
images with sharp, distinct edges, such 
as cartoons. On the other hand, the 
human eye will never notice if some 
detail is taken from photos. 

EPS. The EPS (Encapsulated Post- 
Script) file format includes PostScript 
commands that tell a Post- 
Script printer how to print a 
file. PostScript is a language 
used on advanced graphics and 
desktop publishing files for 
better reproduction. 

Help Yourself 

So, what happens if you at- 
tempt to open a graphics file in 
a program other than the one 
in which it was developed? 
Probably nothing, because 
most graphics programs can 
handle a wide variety of file 
formats. For example, Micro- 
soft Photo Editor can open files 
using JPEG, GIF, and Windows 
BMP formats. (For more on graphics 
file viewers, see "Fewer File Frustra- 
tions" on page 209.) 

If you run into a graphics file with 
which you aren't familiar and want to 
know which of your programs will 
support it, open the program and 
choose Save As from the File menu. 
In the Save As dialog box, click the 
Save As Type drop-down list arrow to 
view the list of graphics formats with 
which the program will work. 

To save a file in a different file 
format, choose File and then Save As to 
display the Save As dialog box. Choose 
the format you want from the Save As 
Type drop-down list. Keep in mind 
that most graphics formats transfer 
without a loss of data unless you're 
converting a high-resolution TIFF file 
into a format that uses lossy compres- 
sion, such as JPEG. 

Although we don't have room here to 
list every graphics format out there, this 
information should help clear up your 
graphics file extension confusion. [IS] 

by Linda Bird 



54 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Updating Your Info 



Migrating Office 

Suites To 

StarOffice 7 



Catch A Rising Star 



Sun's StarOffice 7 ($79.95; www 
.sun.com) is a terrific and rela- 
tively inexpensive alternative to 
Microsoft Office, but there's a big 
catch. Microsoft has a virtual lock on 
the office suite market, so nearly every 
document, spreadsheet, database, and 
other file you'll encounter is stored in a 
Microsoft Office format. StarOffice 6 
came with decent conversion tools but 
still had trouble dealing with Office 
files and saving files in a format that 
Office users could easily access. Star- 
Office 7 is much better than previous 
versions when it comes to cross-com- 
patibility with Office files, but there are 
still many problems and pitfalls to take 
into consideration if you want to avoid 
tedious reformatting. 

Start At The Beginning 

You can head off most potential 
conversion problems at the pass by 
making sure that a few important op- 
tions are enabled when you install 
StarOffice. Follow all of the prompts 
until you get to the Select Installation 
Type dialog box; at that point choose 
the Custom Installation radio button. 
This takes you to a dialog box where 
you can select the various modules you 
want to add to or remove from the in- 
stallation. We recommend making sure 
all of them are selected by clicking the 
icon next to each module's name, so 
the icon's arrow changes from light 
blue to dark. Your goal is to make every 




arrow dark blue, and you may need to 
expand the main entries by clicking the 
plus signs (+) next to them so you can 
be sure every module is selected. This 
installs the conversion filters (among 
other things), which increase compati- 
bility without bloating the overall in- 
stallation size. Click Next and follow 
the prompts to finish the installation. 

If StarOffice is already installed, you 
can still add any file filters and conver- 
sion tools that you may have left out 
when you installed the suite. Navigate 
to the folder where StarOffice is in- 
stalled and double-click the StarOffice 
Setup icon. Select the Modify radio 
button and click Next. Now perform 
the same steps outlined above, clicking 
each light blue arrow so it turns dark 
blue. Make sure not to accidentally 



Supported File 
Formats 



StarOffice 7 can convert to and 
from a staggering variety of file 
formats, including most versions of 
Microsoft Office. It can open files 
created in Office 2003 but can't save 
to those formats. Here's a compati- 
bility list (not including all the legacy 
StarOffice formats): 

Word Processors 

Word 6.0/95/97/2000/XP 

WordPerfect 

4.1/4.2/5.0/5.1/6.0/6.1 

WordPerfect for Windows 

5.1/5.2/6.0/6.1/7.0 

Rich Text Format (RTF) 

HTML 

AportisDoc 

DocBook 

Pocket Word 

Spreadsheets 

Data Interchange Format 

SYLK 

Text CSV 

dBASE 

Excel 5.0/95/97/2000/XP 

Data Interchange Format 

HTML 

Pocket Excel 

Presentation 

PowerPoint 97/2000/XP 

Others 

Adobe PDF (Portable Document 
Format) 



disable any modules. Disabled entries 
are marked with a red circle that has an 
X in the middle. Click Modify when 
you are finished and then click Com- 
plete to update the installation. 

General Conversion Tips 

You can do many things to ensure 
that the move to StarOffice goes as 
smoothly as possible. An important 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 55 



^J Updating Your Info 



initial step is to make copies of each file 
you plan to convert and convert the 
copies, not the originals. If things go 
awry or you accidentally save changes 
you didn't intend to keep, you'll always 
be able to rely on that original version. 
Also note that you must remove pass- 
word protection from Office files be- 
fore StarOffice can open them. 

Use Save As. You also should get fa- 
miliar with your current office suite's 
Save As feature. You'll find this option 
on the File menu in all programs, and 
it lets you select the format in which 
you want to save a file. Use the drop- 
down menu at the bottom of the Save 
As dialog box to select the file format 
you want to save in and complete the 
save as you normally would. If you did 
everything correctly, you'll create a new 
file with the different extension you 
just chose (indicating a different for- 
mat from the original). 

Check the formatting. The easiest 
way to see if there is a formatting loss 
when you open a file in StarOffice is to 
first open the file with the app used to 
create it and then print out a hard 
copy. Open the same file in StarOffice, 
make another hard copy, and compare 
the two. If they don't look identical, 
some formatting was lost in the transla- 
tion, and you may have to make some 
manual edits to get the files to match 
up. If you don't want to waste paper 
and your other office application sup- 
ports print previewing, open a print 
preview in both apps and compare. 
This can usually tell you at a glance if 
there is a major formatting problem. 

Remember that you can use Star- 
Office's applications to re-create docu- 
ments that aren't converting properly. 
Sometimes using simple cut-and-paste 
methods and doing a little manual 
cleanup is faster and easier than trying 
to convert a document over and over 
again using a variety of methods in an 
attempt to get a perfect conversion. 
Sometimes that simply isn't possible, 
so cut your losses and consider re- 
doing the document in the new office 
suite using data from the old office 
suite as your guide. 













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StarOffice 7 comes with tools that let 
you simultaneously convert multiple 
files in a single folder. 



For maximum compatibility make sure 
to completely install the software. 



If you find yourself running into 
the same formatting problems again 
and again while converting, consider 
changing some of the default conver- 
sion options in StarOffice by opening 
the Tools menu and clicking Options. 
Use the plus signs next to the main cat- 
egories to expand them and then click a 
subcategory to bring up its options. For 
example, the General entry in the Text 
Document category has some compati- 
bility settings that change the way 
StarOffice handles spacing. 

Just say no to macros. Sorry, but 
StarOffice 7.0 is not compatible with 
macros made using other companies' 
products. The suite does have its own 
macro recorder now (StarOffice 6 
didn't), making it easier to re-create 
macros if necessary. Macros created 
with StarOffice 6.0 should work per- 
fectly in 7.0, but you must rewrite 
macros made using older versions such 
as 4.0, 5.0, 5.1 or 5.2. 

Tips For Specific StarOffice 
Applications 

We can't tell you everything there is 
to know about every StarOffice app, 
but you'll find that when it comes to 
converting data, much of what you 
need to know is just common sense. 
Here's a rundown of some of the most 
important things to keep in mind. 

Database tips. StarOffice 7 uses the 
Adabas D database software, which in- 
stalls separately after StarOffice. Adabas 
D can connect to most any database file 



that uses Adabas, dBase, ODBC (Open 
Database Connectivity), or JDBC (Java 
Database Connectivity) technology. 

Word processor tips. StarOffice 7 is 
much better than v6.0 at maintaining 
formatting in Word documents, but 
even simple documents look different 
in StarOffice than they do in Office. 
Many of the test files we opened took 
up more pages in StarOffice Writer 
than they did in Microsoft Word be- 
cause of differences in spacing between 
paragraphs, and Writer rendered spe- 
cially formatted items, such as bulleted 
lists, differently than Word did. 

Saving in a word processor's native 
file format is one of the key things to 
avoid if you are worried about main- 
taining compatibility between different 
office suites. For example, Microsoft 
Word saves files in its proprietary DOC 
(Document) format. The good thing 
about DOC files is they are able to take 
advantage of all of Word's advanced 
features. The bad thing is that Star- 
Office does not support all of these fea- 
tures. If you try to open DOC files that 
use some of Word's more obscure or 
complex formatting in StarOffice, the 
result may not be what you expected. 

Files saved in the TXT (plain text) or 
RTF (Rich Text Format) formats are 
more likely to retain their look when 
opened in StarOffice than those saved 
in any other word processor's native 
format. TXT docs will lose nearly all of 
the special formatting from the original 
document, including holding, under- 
lining, and other formatting mainstays. 



56 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Updating Your Info 



(Then again, that's true of a TXT 
file saved using any word pro- 
cessor.) For best results, we rec- 
ommend sticking with RTF, as it 
supports all of the most crucial 
formatting options while dis- 
pensing with some of the ad- 
vanced stuff that StarOffice's 
conversion filters choke on. 

If you inserted graphics, ta- 
bles, or other external files into a 
Word doc you plan to convert, 
make sure the files are embedded 
in the document and that the 
document doesn't merely link to 
their external files. All file links 
are lost during the conversion, 
causing formatting errors and forcing 
you to reimport the external files into 
your document. In general, files con- 
taining graphics will look best if the pics 
are stripped out and brought back in 
with StarOffice's importation tools. 

When you open an MS Word file in 
StarOffice, there are many common 
conversion errors to watch for. We no- 
ticed that bold text sometimes became 
plain, and columns set up in Word did 
not flow the same way in Writer. One 
particular document we had painstak- 
ingly edited to use three columns and 
take up only eight pages in Word re- 
tained the columns in Writer but took 
up an extra page. If you have a lot of 
docs that require strict margins or 
column widths, expect to do a lot of 
manual tweaking in Writer. 

Word docs that incorporate Auto- 
Shapes, tables, revision marks, Word- 
Art, hyperlinks, or multiple columns all 
pose challenges to StarOffice's conver- 
sion filters; expect to do some clean-up 
to reformat these types of files. Also, if 
you plan to convert a Word doc, try to 
use the most common fonts you can 
(Times New Roman, Courier, Arial, 
etc.), as StarOffice uses a different set of 
licensed fonts than Office and may not 
convert nonstandard fonts properly. 

Spreadsheet tips. Opening spread- 
sheets in Calc worked just like opening 
text docs in Writer: All of the files cre- 
ated in Excel and other applications 
opened properly, but with a few minor 




The same document that perfectly fills three pages in Word 
spills over into four in StarOffice because of spacing differences. 



changes. If you use very large spread- 
sheets, be aware that StarOffice 7 sup- 
ports a maximum of 32,000 rows. If 
your Excel file contains charts or Auto- 
Shapes, be ready for a lot of reformat- 
ting work because those elements won't 
translate properly, if at all. Also, Star- 
Office doesn't support all of Excel's for- 
mulas and functions, and its DataPilot 
tool is not as full-featured as Excel's 
Pivot Table tool, so check the spread- 
sheet carefully after importing it to 
make sure everything adds up. 

Presentation tips. We didn't have 
any trouble using Impress to open sev- 
eral PowerPoint presentations. As with 
the other applications, you may note 
some minor formatting changes, with 
margins or fonts shifting, but overall 
compatibility is good, and all the im- 
ages and other content integrated with 
our presentation files remained intact. 
AutoShapes pose a problem, as do 
grouped objects and some of Power- 
Point's multimedia effects. Strip these 
from your file before importing it, if 
possible, and be aware that Impress 
doesn't support voice-over narration 
and removes it during conversion. 

General Saving Tips 

If you need to open files created 
using StarOffice in other apps, it's a 
good idea to save them in the native 
format of the other application instead 
of in StarOffice's native formats. For 



example, if you want to change 
the default setting so that each 
StarOffice application saves files 
in Microsoft Office format, click 
the Tools menu, select Options, 
expand the Load/Save entry, and 
then click General. Select the 
type of the file from the Doc- 
ument Type menu at the bottom 
of the window; when it is high- 
lighted, select the default format 
you'd like to use in the Always 
Save As drop-down menu. Of 
course, you can temporarily 
bypass the default setting by 
choosing Save As on the File 
menu and saving the current 
document in a different format. 

Auto-Convert. If you are comfort- 
able using StarOffice 7 and don't want 
to manually convert files to StarOffice 
format one by one, use the included 
AutoPilot Document Converter tool 
(click File, AutoPilot, and Document 
Converter) to convert every file in a 
single folder at once. AutoPilot makes 
copies automatically during the conver- 
sion process, so the original files are left 
intact, and it is useful for converting 
Microsoft Office files as well as files 
from StarOffice versions 5.2 and older. 



Need More Info? 

Although this guide offers a basic 
overview of what to expect during the 
conversion process, it is by no means 
exhaustive. There are so many different 
file types, so many different features to 
consider, and so many overall compati- 
bility concerns that Sun created a 102- 
page migration guide (available at Sun's 
German site; se. sun.com/edu/star 
office/so_migration_guide_0 104.pdf) 
that covers all aspects of each applica- 
tion. You'll need Adobe Reader (www 
.adobe.com) to open the file, but once 
you get inside you'll find detailed help 
for any specific problems you might 
face when converting StarOffice files to 
other formats and vice versa. [S] 

by Tracy Baker 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 57 




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Moving Data 



Ship Out 

Move Files From An Old PC To A New One 




You might grin from ear to ear 
if you just picked up a new 
Pentium 4 PC for less than 
$1,000, but setting up your new beige 
rocket requires more than plugging 
in a few devices and running the 
startup software. Remember your old 
PC? The one that's seen you through 
the past three years? The one with 
all your photos, MP3s, and recipes 
stored on it? 

That old plastic box holds a lot of 
data you probably want to move to 
your new plastic box. You can move 
data from an old PC to a new PC in 
several ways, but some methods are 
better than others. We'll show you a 
few ways you can move your infor- 
mation from your old PC to a new 
system and we'll walk you through 
our favorite method. 



Cleaning House 

Before we get into the nuts and bolts 
of moving data from an old PC to your 
new one, let's consider what kind of 
data you should move. Obviously, you 
want to move all of your personal files: 
MP3s, spreadsheets, word documents, 
photos, personal financial records, and 
anything else you have created and are 
storing on the computer. 

Your old system also contains many 
fdes you didn't create but should still 
transport to the new PC. The old PC 
has updates and software patches for 
your existing software, network set- 
tings, browser bookmarks, cookies for 
your favorite Web sites, personal set- 
tings, and email messages. A PC holds 
more of this kind of data than you 
think. Explore the files and folders 



on your old system before you start 
moving these items to your new 
computer, make a list of files and 
folders you want to keep, and note 
their locations. 

You've no doubt acquired many 
programs for your PC over the years. 
Even though you may not need to in- 
stall all of them on the new system, 
you'll still want to install your favorite 
applications, such as financial soft- 
ware, reference programs, security ap- 
plications, and perhaps a few games 
(assuming your new computer doesn't 
already have newer and better versions 
of these programs). You should install 
these programs on the new PC di- 
rectly, rather than transfer them from 
the old one. The reason is simple: 
You're not a software pirate. (At least 
we hope you're not.) Software compa- 
nies want their software installed on 
one system and one only. If you install 
one of your old PC's programs on 
your new PC, delete the program from 
your old PC. If you're unsure as to 
whether you can install the program 
on more than one PC, read the soft- 
ware's licensing agreement. 

How To Move It 

Now that we know what we're mov- 
ing, we need to think about the dif- 
ferent ways we can move it. All of the 
following options will work, but some 
of them aren't especially practical. 

Diskettes. Using floppy diskettes 
is the old, old, old-fashioned way to 
move data from computer A to com- 
puter B, roughly 1.44MB at a time. 
Diskettes are practical for moving a 
small file or two from one PC to an- 
other, but they don't hold ark-like 
quantities of data. Many of your files 
simply won't fit on a single diskette. 
Because this is the least effective way 
of moving your data to a new sys- 
tem, we recommend avoiding it if at 
all possible. 

USB (Universal Serial Bus) flash 
drives. These handy devices are gen- 
erally small enough to fit on a key- 
chain and hold a considerably greater 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 59 



\il Moving Data 



Dual-layer DVD-RW drives, such as this 

Sony unit, are capable of 

recording more than 8GB 

in a relatively short 

amount of 

time. 




amount 
of information 
than a diskette; their 
portability, compatibility, and 
cost (128MB flash drives are generally 
available for less than $20) make USB 
flash drives the perfect successor to 
diskettes. USB flash drives, often also 
called thumb drives or pen drives, 
can't quite match the file moving 
ability of a tape drive but they also 
don't require purchasing any addi- 
tional hardware. Using a USB flash 
drive with Windows 95 is risky be- 
cause USB support wasn't added until 
OSR (OEM [Original Equipment 
Manufacturer] Service Release) 2.1, 
and this early USB support was spotty 
at best. 

When you connect a USB flash drive 
to an available USB port, Windows 
should automatically recognize it and 
treat it as a separate drive. You can drag 
and drop files like you would with a 
floppy diskette. 

Tape drives. If you have a system 
that uses an older OS (operating sys- 
tem), you may want to use a tape drive. 
Older systems, such as those that use 
Win95, are more likely to work with a 
tape drive than with newer portable 
storage options, such as external CD- 
RW (CD-rewriteable) drives. You can 
store a few gigabytes of data on a 
single tape, far more than a single CD- 
R (CD-recordable) or CD-RW holds. 
Although more expensive than CD- 
RW drives, tape drives let you move 
large amounts of raw data to your PC. 

CD-RW or DVD-R/RW drive. A 
fast CD-RW or DVD-R/RW drive is 
one of the best options for moving data 



from one 
PC to an- 
other. You can 
record as much 
as 700MB of data 
on a CD that any PC's 
CD-ROM drive can read and you can 
record more than 8GB of data to cer- 
tain DVDs. If your old PC doesn't have 
an internal CD-RW or DVD-R/RW 
drive, you may consider borrowing an 
external drive or simply buying one. 
Another advantage to using a CD-RW 
or DVD-R/RW drive is that the media 
are very cheap and durable. 

Move the entire hard drive. If 
you're handy with a set of tools, you 
could take the hard drive out of your 
old PC and install it in the new PC as 
a slave drive, giving you quick access 
to all of your old files, folders, and 
patches. Installing a hard drive on a 
PC really isn't that difficult, but this 
procedure does scare some users. 
Really, it's simply a matter of setting 
the jumpers on the back of the drive 
to Slave, sliding the drive into a drive 
bay in your new PC, and plugging a 
couple of cables into the back of the 
drive. Of course, if you want to con- 
tinue to use your old PC, this option 
isn't viable. 

Direct Cable Connection. 
Sometimes the best way 
to get something 
done is the 
direct route. 
Use the Di- 
rect Cable 
Connection 
app you will 
find in most 



Windows OSes to transfer files from 
the old PC to your new one. 

On paper, the process seems easy. 
Simply connect the old PC to the new 
PC via a serial cable and run the Direct 
Cable Connection program. This 
method often works better in theory 
than in practice, but it's worth a try if 
you want to move data without buying 
a storage peripheral, such as an ex- 
ternal CD-RW drive. 

If your new PC has Windows XP 
installed, you can use the Files And 
Settings Transfer Wizard to move your 
old data and settings to the new PC. 
The wizard notes your old PC's display 
settings, folder options, and email set- 
tings, among other things, and imports 
these properties to your new PC. You 
can use the WinXP Files And Settings 
Transfer Wizard when upgrading from 
a Win9x/Me/2000/NT 4.0 system or 
from another PC running WinXP. 
Follow these steps to use the Files And 
Settings Transfer Wizard. 

First, open the wizard on the WinXP 
PC by clicking Start, All Programs, 
Accessories, System Tools, and finally 
the Files And Settings Transfer Wizard. 
Click Next once the wizard starts, and 
choose whether the system is the PC 
you're moving files to (the new com- 
puter) or from (your old PC). Select 
the New Computer radio button and 
click Next. 

The next step is to install the Files 
And Settings Transfer Wizard on 
your old PC. There are a couple 
of ways to do this. You can install 
the wizard from your 
WinXP CD or 
you can 




USB flash drives may 
not be friendly with Windows 
95 systems, but they're phenomenal 
for moving data between PCs with Windows 
98/2000/Me/NT/XP. 



60 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



If^ Moving Data 



have the wizard that's running on 
the new PC save the wizard to a 
diskette. Click the radio button 
for the option you want and click 
Next. If you choose to create a 
diskette, you'll be prompted to 
place a diskette in the drive, and 
the wizard will install a copy of 
itself to the diskette. Pop the 
diskette in the old PC. Click Start, 
then Run, and type a:\FASTWiz in 
the text box. Click Next, and the 
wizard will start on your old PC. 

At this point, you'll have to 
choose which method you'll use 
to move files from the old PC to 
the new one. Most users will use 
the Direct Cable Connection op- 
tion, so we'll walk you through that 
process, although the Home Network 
option is faster if you have a network 
set up. If you use the Direct Cable 
Connection option, you'll need a se- 
rial cable, which you can find at any 
computer hardware store. Connect 
the cable to the serial port of both 
PCs, click the Direct Cable option, 
and click Next. 

Go to the new PC, which should still 
display the wizard as you left it. Click 
Nex, choose Direct Cable, and click 
Next again. Both dialog boxes should 
display the same page of the wizard at 
this point, in which each system can de- 
tect the cable connection from the other 
PC. Click the AutoDetect button in the 
lower-left corner of each wizard (both 
the old and new PC). The PCs will find 
each other through the serial cable and 
establish a connection. 

Return to the old PC and click Next. 
The Files And Settings Transfer Wizard 
can automatically select and transfer 
files and settings for you, or you can 
choose which files and settings to 
transfer. If you want to use the auto- 
matic process, simply click Next again. 

If you want to choose the files and 
settings to transfer, click the Let Me 
Select A Custom List checkbox and 
click Next. The Custom List will let 
you select the various settings and files 
you want to transfer by clicking the 
options available. When you're done, 




Laplink's PCmover is virtually foolproof for a 
system-wide migration. 

click Next. Finally, click Next on the 
new PC to begin the data transfer. The 
new PC will apply the settings and in- 
stall the files after all of the data is re- 
ceived from the old PC. Once this is 
done, click Finish to close the wizard. 
You'll have to restart the new PC for 
all the changes to take effect. 

PCmover. Laplink's (www.laplink 
.com) PCmover software package 
moves data files and settings from an 
old PC to a new one. Recognizing that 
serial and parallel cables are almost as 
outdated as floppy diskettes, Laplink 
decided to forgo packaging a serial 
cable with PCmover; you'll get a faster 
Laplink USB 1.1 cable instead. 

PCmover includes a wizard with 
which you can transfer your old PC's 
settings, files, and folders to your new 
PC in minutes. PCmover is compat- 
ible with Win9x/Me/2000/NT/XP. 
The $49.95 price ($39.95 if you elect 
to download it directly from the Lap- 
link site) is about half the price of 
previous versions of the software, but 
you can also use it to transfer files and 
synchronize folders with another PC's 
through the Internet or through a 
LAN (local- area network). 



In the event you're struck with 

a strange desire to return to your 

roots by migrating from a PC 

with a newer OS to a PC with an 

older OS, we don't recommend 

using PCmover. According to 

Laplink, transferring programs 

and settings from a PC running 

WinXP to a PC running Win98 

can make your system unbootable. 

Our Favorite Method 

We've suggested several ways to 
move data from an old PC to a new 
one. Now we'll walk you through 
what we think is the best way to 
carry out this operation. We rec- 
ommend using PCmover with the 
Laplink USB 1.1 cable. 

It's reliable and relatively fast, and 
unlike some of the other methods 
we've mentioned, you can easily 
transfer your old PC's customized set- 
tings to your new PC. You can use 
one of the other options if you prefer, 
but PCmover is the way we'd go. 

The first step, as you'd expect, is to 
install PCmover on both the old and 
new computers. If your old system 
uses Win95, you won't be able to use 
the USB cable, so you'll have to pur- 
chase a parallel cable to make the 
transfer (in which case it would prob- 
ably be easier to simply use WinXP's 
Files And Settings Transfer Wizard). 
It doesn't matter which PC you install 
PCmover on first. 

Load the PCmover installation CD 
in one of the PCs and click Install 
PCmover. If the PCmover installer 
doesn't automatically launch, open 
My Computer and double-click 
the PCmover icon. Click Continue 
Installation and Yes. Let the Setup 
Wizard guide you through the instal- 
lation. When you reach the Select 
Additional Tasks screen, select the 
Install USB Drivers checkbox if you 
decide to use the Laplink USB 1.1 
cable. If you don't install these dri- 
vers, you won't be able to establish a 
connection between the two com- 
puters when you connect them with 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 61 



\il Moving Data 



the USB 1.1 cable. Repeat this process 
for the second computer. 

You can't just breeze through a mi- 
gration after you install PCmover 
without first doing a little prep work. 
Laplink recommends performing an 
antivirus scan on both computers and 
running ScanDisk on the old com- 
puter. Although these are optional 
steps, completing these tasks will make 
your migration run more smoothly. 

Next, launch PCmover on the new 
PC. If you have an active Internet con- 
nection, you can click the Check For 
Update button to ensure you're using 
the most current version of PCmover; 
otherwise, click Next, New, and Next. 
Select the I Have Run ScanDisk To 
Correct Any Existing Disk Errors and 
I Have Scanned For Viruses To Ensure 
A Clean System checkboxes. (As we 
mentioned, this is optional; there's no 
way for PCmover to know if you've 
actually completed either of these 
tasks.) Click Next, Over USB, Next, 
and Next. The PCmover dialog box 
should now indicate that the migra- 
tion is in progress, but you'll need to 
run PCmover on your old PC before 
you can ship your programs, files, and 
settings to the new PC. 

Prepping up the old PC for migra- 
tion is virtually the same process. 
Open PCmover on the old PC and 
check for updates if you prefer. Click 
Next, Old, and Next. At this point, 
we recommend entering your serial 
number. You must enter it before the 
transfer begins, but it's a good idea 
to get it out of the way. Click Yes, I 
Would Like To Enter My Serial Num- 
ber Now, and Next. Fill in the empty 
fields with the appropriate informa- 
tion and click Next. You'll either need 
Internet access on your old computer 
to register your serial number or an- 
other computer with Internet access 
to obtain a validation code. After you 
register PCmover, click Next twice, 
and PCmover will quickly create a 
snapshot of your old PC to determine 
its contents. 

Once PCmover creates a snapshot, 
click Next. At the Select Migration 



Modifications screen, you can in- 
clude settings from a few select pro- 
grams, such as Microsoft Outlook 
and/or Word, for the migration. If 
you click Advanced, you can further 
tailor the migration to fit your 
needs; click Next when you're ready 
to continue. 

Click Next, and PCmover will 
create a moving journal. The moving 
journal tells PCmover exactly what it 
will transfer to your new PC. This 
process should only take a couple of 
minutes. PCmover will build the 
moving journal and inform you it's 
ready to perform the migration. 
Click Next twice, kick back, and 
enjoy the ride. (The transfer can take 
over an hour, depending on how 
much data you're transferring.) 

Our test migration, which in- 
cluded nearly 3GB of data, crossed 
the finish line in 44 minutes. We 
clicked Finish to conclude the mi- 
gration on the old PC. On your new 
PC, we recommend you select the 
Reboot Automatically checkbox and 
click Finish to restart your PC. This 
guarantees all of the changes will 
take effect. 

Role Reversal 

If you aren't satisfied with the mi- 
gration or you change your mind 
and decide you'd like a fresh start 
with your new PC, undoing the 
changes to your new PC is also a 
cinch with PCmover. Open PCmover 
on your new PC as if you were going 
to perform another migration. Click 
Next, New, Next, Undo Previous Mi- 
gration, Next, Next, and Yes when 
PCmover asks if you're sure you 
want to undo the migration. The 
restoration process, which is also 
automatic, is much faster than the 
migration itself. We reverted our 
destination PC to its initial state in 
about three minutes. Click Finish to 
restart your new PC, and the migra- 
tion should be completely undone. 

Almost all users have at least some 
information on their old systems 



Transfer Method 



O Over a Network 
©Through lire Par ah 



| <Back 



We think Laplink's USB 1 .1 cable is the simplest 
way to use PCmover. 



Enler Serial Number 



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Click No Internet Access if your old PC doesn't 
have an active Internet connection. 



If you do not havv ;.'.:■ ■:.■ ■■■.-.■ :. - . ; : : ■ .puter. you m List valid ate your 
from another conv.- ..:■■•. '■ 'ernet access. 

... . | ... ... ..:. . . . . ... . . : .. ■ .... . . . ... : . .... . :■;..; ... 

■ ■■.: ■ :■ . .. .. ■■: . ... . ; ..■■.-. : ■ - .- ■..■. ■■■ ..■ : .: . . ....;■! !■ . . . . 

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When the Validator gives you a validation code, enter it here arid select OK. The 
Validation Code will then appear in the Serial Number box. You should then select 
Next to proceed. 


Validation Code: 


*^m ^^m 


| ! ' 5E j Cancel Help 





If you use a separate PC to register your serial 
number, enter the Validation Code Laplink 
gives you in this field. 



that they'll want to move to a new 
PC. If you have a lot of data to 
move, don't make it more compli- 
cated than it needs to be. PCmover 
will make the job a lot easier. On the 
other hand, the other media we 
mentioned can complete smaller 
moves just as easily. [Ml 

by Michael Sweet and Vince Cocley 



62 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



jgj Moving Data 



From Hot Wax To 
Digital Tracks 

Convert Your Vinyl LPs To CDs 




The further back your music col- 
lection dates — particularly if 
we're getting into the heyday of 
Phil Collins and leg warmers, or ear- 
lier — the more likely it is that you have 
some vinyl record albums stashed 
away. You know the ones we're 
talking about: You liked them well 
enough that they've survived yard 
sales and trade-ins, but you couldn't 
justify the cost of replacing them with 
their compact disc reissues. 

Chances are they don't see a whole 
lot of action these days. Compared to 
CDs, vinyl LPs are a pain in the rear 
to play. In this age of multidisc 
carousels, jukebox players that let you 
load CDs by the hundreds, and iPods, 
we're used to push-button-and-forget 
convenience. LPs are like fussy babies 



that demand to be picked up and 
changed every 20 minutes. 

So in their sleeves they stay. And 
that's too bad. Hibernating in your 
closet, there may be a lot of wax- 
bound tunes that you've forgotten 
just how much you love hearing. 

Fortunately, for an investment 
that weighs heavier on time than 
cash, you can take those big black 
platters and turn them into stream- 
lined silver discs. 

Gear Check 

In short, what you'll be doing is 
converting analog recordings into 
digital files and then burning them 
onto a recordable CD. Beyond the ob- 
vious — a turntable and a computer 



equipped with a disc burner — here's a 
list of the items you'll need: 

• Connection cables 

• Vinyl maintenance accessories 

• Audio recording software 

• Audio restoration software (may be 
incorporated with the recording 
software) 

• CD burning software (may also be 
incorporated with the recording 
software) 

• Blank CD-Rs 

Not all of them are absolute essen- 
tials, but as your dad probably told 
you more than once, any job worth 
doing is worth doing right. 

Make The Connection 

Even if your turntable's output ca- 
bles fit the input jacks on your com- 
puter's sound card or other audio 
interface, you probably won't be able 
to connect the two directly and get 
satisfactory results. Although some 
turntables have built-in amplifiers, 
most consumer-level turntables put 
out a very low signal that needs to be 
amplified before you can hear it or 
before your recording software can 
capture it. Instead, you'll need to use 
an audio signal coming from your 
stereo system's amplifier/receiver. 

Turntables without a built-in ampli- 
fier must be connected to the receiver's 
phonograph input. Unlike the re- 
ceiver's inputs for CD players, tape 
decks, etc., a dedicated Phono input 
provides the necessary boost in ampli- 
fication that the turntable requires. If 
you've bought a new stereo receiver in 
recent years or want to connect the 
player to a multichannel home theater 
receiver, there's a good chance it 
doesn't have a Phono input; some 
manufacturers consider vinyl obsolete. 
You can't simply connect the turntable 
to an auxiliary input, either, because it 
won't provide that necessary signal 
boost. In this case you'll need to con- 
nect the turntable to a separate phono- 
graph preamp and then connect the 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 63 



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preamp to an auxil- 
iary input. 

Because there are 
so many different 
components avail- 
able for your audio 
and PC systems, we 
can't account for 
every possible com- 
bination. In general, 
though, you'll want 
to connect the two 
as efficiently as pos- 
sible, using as few 
cables and adapter 
plugs as you can get 
away with. 

Some receivers 
have auxiliary out- 
puts, often in a standardized plug size 
known as RCA. If your receiver has 
them and if your computer has a 
sound card that features RCA audio 
inputs, all you would need to do con- 
nect the two with a pair of RCA ca- 
bles, and you're in business. If you're 
using a phonograph preamp, you 
should be able to connect its outputs 
directly to your sound card. 

If you find yourself in a situation in 
which your components have different 
jack sizes (for example, RCA outputs 
and 1/4-inch inputs), you should be 
able to find special cables with the 
proper plugs on either end. In lieu of 
that, you could shop for adapter plugs; 
these consist of a female socket that the 
cable plugs into and a male plug of the 
size you actually need. 

Another common connector size is 
the 1/8-inch miniplug, which you'll 
often find on smaller pairs of head- 
phones and the earbuds for iPods and 
other portable players. Many computer 
sound cards, particularly if they consist 
solely of a PCI (Peripheral Computer 
Interconnect) card, which has a very 
limited amount of space for jacks, fea- 
ture a stereo line-in miniplug jack. 

This gives you a couple of options: 
You should have no trouble finding a 
cable with dual RCA plugs on one end 
for the receiver and on the other end a 
single miniplug for your PC. Or you 



T sod 



In the Record Audio dialog box, 
you'll choose your audio path, set 
sound levels, and activate the 
recording process. 



could run a line di- 
rectly from your re- 
ceiver's headphone 
jack to your PC's 
sound card input. 

You may find this 
latter option to be 
the easiest of all. It's 
a great alternative if 
your receiver doesn't 
have auxiliary out- 
puts or if you just 
don't feel like crawl- 
ing around behind 
your stereo system. 
It certainly simplifies 
matters, reducing 
the connection to a 
single line. All you 
need is a cable with a stereo minijack 
on one end and a 1/4-inch plug (or use 
a 1/8-inch-to- 1/4-inch adapter) for the 
headphone jack on the other. 

Go for the gold. Regardless of 
which cables you need, it's a good idea 
to shop for cables with gold-plated 
plugs. Because of gold's superior con- 
ductivity, it will give you the best pos- 
sible results, carrying a cleaner signal 
with less chance of loss or distortion. 
True, they cost more than chrome- 
plated plugs, but the difference isn't so 
great that it's worth skimping. 

For the purposes of this article, we 
put together a cable package at Radio 
Shack for around $25 with tax. That in- 
cluded a six-foot stereo dubbing cable 
with gold miniplugs at either end, a 
gold 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch adapter to fit 
our receiver's headphone jack, and a 
20-foot gold miniplug extension cable. 
We needed the latter because the six- 
foot cable was too short to reach 
between our components. If your 
components are close enough together, 
you can knock $8 off the total. 

Keep It Clean 

It's a sad fact of life that your LPs 
never sounded any better than the 
first time you slipped them factory- 
fresh from their sleeves. Unless 
they've been exceptionally well cared 



for, it's probably been downhill for 
them ever since. 

That's not to say you can't give 
them some tender loving care to en- 
sure they play as cleanly as possible 
when you record them into your PC. 
If you don't already have products for 
vinyl album care, here are some you 
may want to consider getting: 

Compressed air. If your LPs are 
visibly dusty, shame on you . . . but 
you may be able to blow off the worst 
of it with a can of compressed air. 
Although it's not as cheap as the air 
you breathe, you should be able to 
pick up a can for a few bucks at any 
computer supply store. 

Antistatic gun. LPs are sometimes 
prone to holding a static electricity 
charge that causes crackling during 
play. One old tried-and-true solution 
among audiophiles is the Zerostat 3 
gun by a British manufacturer called 
Milty (www.milty.co.uk). A squeeze 
of its trigger releases a stream of ions 
that neutralizes the static charge. 
They're pricier than they used to be 
(the U.S. MSRP appears to be around 
$69.95), but you may find them 
cheaper on eBay. 

Cleaning kit. For hands-on mainte- 
nance the Discwasher D4+ Record 
Cleaning System ($19.99) is another 
old friend of turntable veterans. It in- 
cludes a bottle of cleaning fluid; a 
soft, walnut-handled pad; and a brush 
for cleaning the pad. The D4+ system 
is no longer listed on the Discwasher 
Web site (www.discwasher.com) and 
is reportedly discontinued, but you 
can still find it at such outlets as 
Amazon (www.amazon.com) and 
Sleeve City (www.sleevetown.com), 
which also offers several other vinyl 
cleaning products. 

Your Virtual Recording Console 

For capturing the signal from your 
turntable, any software that permits 
recording audio in stereo at CD 
quality can do the job. However, 
you'll probably find it more conve- 
nient if you use a program specifically 



64 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



If^ Moving Data 



G: LP and Tape Assistant 



Identify 8s Enhance 



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designed for digitizing analog sources 
such as LPs and cassettes. 

Dedicated programs have such task- 
specific features as track marking. Why 
is this handy? Say you record two 
album sides with 10 songs. A generic 
stereo recorder would see this as one 
long recording. But a dedicated pro- 
gram will let you easily separate it into 
10 individual songs, either by manu- 
ally placing markers between tracks or 
having the software do it automatically 
by listening for silence between songs. 

One of the best such programs for 
Windows is part of Roxio's Easy Media 
Creator 7.5 ($99.95; www.roxio.com). 
The latest version of 
this jam-packed ap- 
plication suite fea- 
tures the new LP 
And Tape Assistant, 
which we'll be using 
for this task. This 
Assistant consoli- 
dates everything you 
need to record and 
arrange tracks, im- 
prove their audio 
quality, and burn 
them to a CD. It also 
wraps these tools in 
an easy to use three- 
step interface that's 
a big improvement 
over version 7. 

(Note: Although 
Roxio had released Easy Media 
Creator 7.5 before this issue went to 
press, while preparing this article we 
were using a prerelease version. Slight 
differences in the final release are pos- 
sible, but unlikely.) 

If you're working on a Mac, Roxio's 
CD-burning application Toast 6 
Titanium ($99.95) includes a program, 
Spin Doctor 2, that provides similar LP 
and tape recording functions. 

So connect your components, clean 
your vinyl, and let's do some dubbing. 



Step 1 -Record Tracks 

EMC 7.5's LP And Tape Assistant 
does an excellent job of walking you 



step-by-step through the entire re- 
cording process. Graphically, it's laid 
out with an area on the left side called 
the Task Pane, which provides in- 
structions and options. To the right is 
the main workspace, and several fea- 
tures have their own dialog box. 

In fact, the Assistant does such a 
thorough job that it's almost impos- 
sible to go astray, but we can provide 
tips and pointers for things that may 
be less apparent. 

Set the audio level. To get started 
click the Record Tracks button in the 
Task Pane under Step 1. This opens a 
dialog box that you'll use as long as 



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Step 2's Adjust option provides a waveform overview of the entire recording session 



you're piping in the turntable signal. 
It also has drop-down menus, so you 
can choose your sound card and 
recording channel (probably Line In). 
Another menu lets you choose to en- 
code your signal directly to MP3 or 
WMA files, but for now, because the 
end goal is a CD, we'll stick with the 
CD-quality WAV option. 

Before recording you need to adjust 
the input volume to set a proper audio 
level using the program's left/right 
channel bars as a visual reference. 
Ideally, keep the level as high as pos- 
sible without hitting the OdB ceiling. 
For test material use a loud track on 
the album. The Auto button adjusts 
the level automatically, but in our 



experience it hit the overload levels 
several times, so we preferred using 
the slider to set the level manually. 

Also, click the Options button under 
Capture Settings to open the Advanced 
Audio Recording Settings dialog box. 
Click the Track Detection topic and 
then click the checkbox to activate the 
top option: Automatically Add A Track 
Separator On Each Pause. This way 
you can pause recording when side 1 of 
your LP has finished and then flip it 
over to resume playing; when you re- 
sume recording, the Assistant will rec- 
ognize the pause as a cue that a new 
song has started. 

Roll 'em. Start your 
turntable and click the 
program's red Record 
button. The Assistant 
saves the recording to 
a scratch disk, an area 
that it reserves tem- 
porarily on your hard 
drive. The program, 
by default, listens for 
silence to insert track 
markers, but you can 
deactivate this in the 
Advanced Settings di- 
alog box mentioned in 
the previous para- 
graph. Depending on 
the material you're 
recording, you may 
need to. 
For one thing, the Assistant can't 
distinguish between a genuine track 
break and the creative use of silence, 
such as a dramatic dropout in a blues 
tune. Other recordings may have no si- 
lence at all — studio tracks might cross- 
fade into one another, or crowd noise 
may fill the gaps in a concert album. In 
this case you can click the T button in 
the Record Audio dialog box to manu- 
ally insert track separators or place 
them after the recording is completed. 

Also, while the LP is playing, you 
might want to take note of any spots 
with pops or crackles. You'll get a 
chance to fix them later. 

When side 1 is finished, click Pause, 
flip the album over, and click Resume. 



®. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 65 



\il Moving Data 





















Convert Your LPs & Tapes to Digital Format 




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7 OnTheNickel TomWaits 

8 Mr. Siegal TomWaits 
8 Ruby's Arms TomWaits 


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Now you're just a couple of mouse clicks away from a finished CD. 



When side 2 is over, click Stop and 
then Done. Now you'll see your 
recording listed in the workspace. 

Click the Next button to proceed to 
Step 2. 

Step 2-ldentify & Enhance 

This step gives you two ways of 
viewing your recordings. Both put 
some valuable features at your disposal. 

The Tracks button furnishes a 
playlist of the individual songs. You 
can shuffle their order with the 
up/down buttons. To identify them 
click the Rename button and fill in 
the Title and Artist fields. 

The Adjust button furnishes a stereo 
waveform overview of the entire 
recording session — a graphic represen- 
tation of the sound waves in the left 
and right channels. Near the upper- 
right corner is a cluster of buttons for 
zooming in and out. You can zoom 
out far enough to squeeze the entire 
album into the window or zoom in 
tight on mere milliseconds of audio. 

The advantage of the Adjust view is 
working with track separators. If you 
need to fine-tune a separator's location, 
you can grab it in the Tracks title line 
above the waveforms and drag it. Be 
sure you're zoomed in far enough that 
the timeline is measured in seconds; if 
you're zoomed out too far, it's difficult 
to drag the marker with precision. To 



check your accuracy, use the playback 
controls under the waveforms. 

You can also insert new separators. 
See that little handle to the right of the 
playback controls? Drag it to set the 
black playback marker wherever you 
want and then click the Add Track 
Separator button. And in case the auto- 
mated option mistook creative silence 
for separate tracks, you can also delete 
separators: Click the track's name 
above the waveform and then click the 
Delete Track Separator button. It 
doesn't remove any audio, but instead 
joins it to the preceding track. 

Cleanup on track five. In both the 
Track and Adjust views, the Task Pane 
displays three options for tweaking 
audio quality, which you can use in 
any combination. With the Clean tool, 
you can reduce or filter out clicks, 
crackles, and surface noise. The 
Enhancer gives a broad boost to your 
choice of bass or treble, and the 
Equalizer lets you boost and cut 10 fre- 
quency bands with tighter precision. 

All of these include a Bypass option 
to toggle the effect on and off, so you 
can gauge your progress. The Clean 
tool also has an option labeled Differ- 
ence, which lets you listen to just the 
noise you're filtering, so you can be 
sure you're not throwing out the 
proverbial baby with the bathwater. 

To get the best results from each of 
these requires patience and careful 



listening. It's also a good idea not to 
go crazy with them and use them ju- 
diciously. A radical change that may 
sound good on your PC speakers, 
such as a huge bass boost, may sound 
overdone on a bigger system. 

Step 3-0utput Tracks 

Now it's time to kick back and let 
your PC do the rest. To mint a new 
disc, insert a CD-R into your drive, 
click the Burn Audio CD button, and 
then click Burn in the dialog box. 

You can also save the tracks to your 
hard drive. There are a couple of rea- 
sons you might want to do this: 

Accumulate tracks before burning. 
CDs can hold a lot more audio than a 
vinyl record. You might even be able 
to fit two LPs on one CD. It's dead 
simple to add stored WAV files to a 
new recording project. Just drag and 
drop them from their folder into the 
Assistant's Step 2 playlist window. 

Additional audio processing. If 
you're more serious about polishing 
your audio, you may want to use other 
software, such as BIAS SoundSoap 2 
($99, www.bias-inc.com). With the ex- 
ception of a 10-band equalizer, it con- 
solidates the same types of audio 
cleaning tools into one easy-to-use in- 
terface. In general we found that it does 
a superior job, particularly with the 
Enhance feature. Also, SoundSoap 2 
can learn a particular type of noise and 
target just those frequencies. 

Load & Listen 

Compared to ripping MP3s from 
CDs, digitizing your old vinyl may 
seem like a terribly slow process. But 
if you enjoy tinkering with audio and 
creating party mixes and other 
playlists, it can also be a lot of fun. 

Best of all, you're preserving a part 
of your past. For that initial invest- 
ment in time, you can continue to 
enjoy your old music collection for 
decades to come. [Ml 

by Brian Hodge 



66 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



^J Moving Data 



Digitize Your 
Cassette 
Collection 

How To Convert Your Mix Tapes To CD 




dB - The Audio 
Nerd's Secret 
Language 



Whether you're a fan of Ma- 
donna, New Kids on the 
Block, Duran Duran, or Van 
Halen, you may recognize that they all 
have something in common. If you 
have one of their albums in your music 
collection, there's a good chance it's on 
cassette tape. "A what?" chimes a 
chorus of voices born after 1985. Yes, a 
cassette tape. If your memory is a bit 
fuzzy, think way back to the time be- 
fore you got your iPod that holds 
10,000 songs and the time before those 
quaint, plastic Compact Discs that held 
about 15. Remember the music you 



listened to before you started buying 
CDs? Those were cassette tapes. 

Today the cassette tape is teetering 
on the brink of extinction. Even in 
their heyday, the little tapes left a lot to 
be desired when it came to sound 
quality. And it wasn't like there 
weren't alternatives. Great sounding 
vinyl records had been around for 
years, and the crystal-clear digital CD 
was about to be introduced. The cas- 
sette tape lacked the warmth and son- 
ic vitality of LPs and didn't have the 
crispness and definition of CDs. 
What's more, tapes degraded over 



All of the meters in Nero are la- 
beled in the logarithmic decibel 
scale, denoted dB. Audio engineers 
use decibels so they can measure how 
loud sounds are. While at first the 
idea of a logarithmic scale sounds like 
a mathematician's dirty trick, the na- 
ture of the dB scale lets you compare 
changes in relative volume. For ex- 
ample, if sound A is 6dB louder than 
sound B, and sound B is 6dB louder 
than sound C, then sound A is 1 2dB 
louder than sound C. Incidentally, a 
6dB change corresponds to a dou- 
bling of signal amplitude. 

dB values are always relative to 
something. The meters in Nero are 
set so that dB corresponds to the 
loudest sound a CD can encode — all 
other sounds are given as negative 
dB values below that. In working 
with other audio equipment, you 
may come across other scales such 
as dBm (milliwatts), dBV (volts), and 
dB-SPL (sound pressure level) that 
use different references for what OdB 
is set at. dB-SPL is the scale most 
often used to express the loudness 
of sounds in air, and measures 
rustling leaves at around 20dB, a 
vacuum cleaner at 80dB, and a rock 
concert at 120dB. I 

time, and had an ugly habit of occa- 
sionally coming unspooled and ending 
up looking like a pile of shiny, brown 
spaghetti. Still, listeners loved them be- 
cause they could take them anywhere, 
and because they could record mix 
tapes of their favorite songs. 

Now those beloved tapes are getting 
old, and it's becoming more and more 
difficult to find a player for them. But 
you can salvage and preserve your 
tapes by digitizing them. Once the 
songs are on a digital CD, they can be 
preserved indefinitely. You can copy 
songs from CDs you create from your 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 67 



\il Moving Data 



tapes to another CD without 
any audio degradation. And 
of course, if you're an MP3 
aficionado, you can then 
convert songs on the CD to 
the MP3 format. We'll show 
you how to use your PC to 
transfer your tapes onto CDs 
so your old music doesn't go 
the way of the dinosaurs. 

Trek Tracks To The PC 

The first step is to devise 
a way to connect a tape 
player to your PC. Almost 
all PC sound cards, even on 
laptop computers, feature 
an audio Line-In jack that 
you can use to connect ex- 
ternal sources to your PC — 
in this case, a tape player. 
The Line-In jack is prob- 
ably next to the headphone 
and microphone inputs. 
This jack is almost always a 
1/8-inch jack, the same 
kind you use to connect 
your portable headphones 
to your Walkman. Some 
specialty sound cards have 
1/4-inch jacks, and some 
accept the red-and-white 
RCA plugs you find on the 
back of your TV and stereo 
components. Make a note 
of what kind of input your 
sound card uses, as well as what kind 
of outputs your tape player has (most 
likely red-and-white RCA connec- 
tors). If you live with a computer or 
audio nerd, you may already have a 
suitable cable to connect your tape 
player to your PC. Otherwise, head to 
an electronics store and ask a sales- 
person to help you find one. Make 
sure the cable is long enough to reach 
between the two devices. 



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Using Nero's Tape to CD Wizard, you'll record all of the audio 
cassette tape's contents into your computer. 




Nero can automatically determine where to split the songs on your 
tape into CD tracks. The white bars denote gaps between songs. 



Set Up The Software 

There are lots of programs available 
to digitize your tapes and burn them 
to CD. When we set about archiving 



our old music, we used Nero 6.6 
($99.99; www.nero.com), a suite of 
programs that you can use to burn a 
variety of audio, video, and data CDs 
and DVDs. We only used a few of the 
many tools the programs provide, 
but Nero's interface is streamlined 
enough that it's easy to ignore what 
you don't need. At $99.99 it isn't 
cheap, but the company provides an 
excellent free trial version of the soft- 
ware, so you can try it before you buy. 
Once you install Nero, find the Nero 
folder in your Start menu and run the 
program called Nero SoundTrax. 
SoundTrax is the recording tool you'll 
use to capture audio from your cassette 



tapes. The program can be a 
bit daunting, but it has an ex- 
cellent Wizard to guide you 
through the process. Under 
the Tools menu, select Wiz- 
ards and then the Tape to 
CD Wizard. 

SoundTrax will display the 
first of four steps: the Re- 
cording Console. Select the 
correct input line from the 
Audio Input Line drop- 
down menu, most likely 
Stereo Mix. Connect the tape 
player to your computer's 
Line-In jack (if you haven't 
done so already) and start 
playing a tape. Hopefully 
you'll see the dancing green- 
and-yellow bars of the level 
meters indicating an audio 
signal. If not, you may need 
to open your Sound and 
Audio Devices Properties 
page in the Windows Con- 
trol Panel and ensure that 
your Line-In input is turned 
on. To do this, click the Ad- 
vanced button under the 
Volume tab to bring up the 
audio mixer and make sure 
the Line-In volume slider is 
all the way up and that the 
Mute button isn't checked. 

Be Level Headed 

The most important step in creating 
a good audio transfer is to set the 
record level correctly. If the level is too 
high, the signal will be distorted, cre- 
ating a harsh scratching or popping 
sound. If the level is too low, hiss and 
noise that would otherwise be too 
quiet to hear will distract from the 
music. First, check the level by looking 
at the meters in the Recording Console 
window. If you're seeing red, you 
should probably turn down the 
volume. A little red may be ok, but 
don't let the meter rise all the way to 
the top of the scale, or your recording 
will be distorted. The meters should 
stay in the yellow region most of the 



68 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



If^ Moving Data 



Edit View Insert Audio Tracks Tools Options Help 



-□ *| 



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Dragging songs in the main SoundTrax window so they overlap will create a cross-fade between them. 



time. If the song you're recording has a 
large dynamic range, that is, if its quiet 
parts are very quiet and loud parts very 
loud, it may be difficult to follow this 
advice strictly. For example, the quiet 
beginning of the Led Zeppelin classic 
Stairway to Heaven may not rise into 
they yellow region at all, but it needs to 
be kept quiet so the loud part at the 
end doesn't distort the recording. 

It's easy, even for professional audio 
engineers, to fall into the trap of be- 
coming meter-heads by focusing on 
the visual indicators too much. What 
really matters is how the music 
sounds, so make your settings based 
on what sounds best to you. To hear 
what you're about to record, check the 
Digital Monitoring box. Your PC will 
play the audio as you record it. One 
great tip is to use a pair of headphones 
to listen to the recording rather than 
your computer's speakers. It's often 
much easier to hear fine detail, small 
changes, and the crackle of distortion 
when using headphones. If you do 
hear a problem, first try to alleviate it 
by turning down the volume of the 
tape player. Then use the software 
volume controls to do any fine-tuning. 

Once you're ready to record, re- 
wind the tape, click Nero's red Record 



button, and then play the tape. Don't 
stop once the first song is done, 
though. Instead, play the entire tape 
straight through. If you don't have the 
patience to listen to the whole thing, 
check the Pause Recording After 20 
Seconds Of Silence box. That way, you 
can step away from the PC, and Nero 
won't fill up your hard drive with 
recordings of silence after the tape 
stops. Once the tape is done, click the 
blue Stop button and then select the 
Next button to go to Step 2. 

Split The Tracks 

Now that the audio is in your com- 
puter, it's time to split it up so you can 
place each song on a separate CD 
track. Nero's Tape to CD Wizard will 
do this automatically for you by 
looking for small gaps of silence be- 
tween songs. Because tapes produce 
hissing noise even during pauses, 
they'll never be totally silent. The 
Silence Threshold setting lets you set 
the loudness below which Nero will as- 
sume that the tape is silent. You may 
have to experiment with this setting to 
get it just right. You can also adjust the 
Minimum Duration Of Pause and 
Minimum Duration Of Track settings 



to prevent a track from being split 
during short pauses that occur in the 
middle of songs. When you click the 
Detect button, Nero will display a 
graphical representation of the tape, 
highlighting songs in blue and pauses 
in white. If Nero missed a track separa- 
tion or put in an extra one, adjust the 
settings and click Detect again. Once 
you're satisfied, click Next to proceed. 

Reduce Noise 

Step 3 of the Wizard removes noise 
and rumbles from your recording. 
Because tapes often suffer from sonic 
problems, this is generally a good idea. 
Try different settings of the Denoiser 
Level and Derumble Level and audi- 
tion them by clicking the Preview 
button. If you're willing to put in a bit 
more time, you can get better results 
by setting both controls to zero and 
using some of Nero's more sophisti- 
cated signal processing features later in 
the process. Once you've decided what 
you'd like to do, click the Next button. 

Finish Up 

The fourth step of the Wizard lets 
you create pauses between the audio 
tracks you separated in Step 2. A two- 
second pause is common between 
music tracks, but you can make it 
longer or shorter. You can also cross- 
fade between songs if you're looking to 
create a seamless disc. Set these con- 
trols and then decide if you'd like Nero 
to burn the project immediately or if 
you'd like to tweak it further. If you 
have a few extra minutes to fiddle with 
the audio, uncheck Nero's Burn Project 
Immediately button. Then click Finish. 

Burn The Disc 

If you've chosen to burn the disc 
immediately, the Audio CD Recorder 
window will appear. If you have more 
than one recordable optical drive, se- 
lect the one you want to use, and also 
choose the speed you'd like to burn at. 
CDs can contain text that lists the 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 69 



\il Moving Data 



3 : o 



-15 D dB lode 



■J: D -'J -J: 'J U 



@l@l 


I - Bypass 






OK | 


M | 




.a 



.a 



a 



a 



Use EQ to correct any frequency imbalances in your 
tape. Usually adding a bit of treble and a bit of bass 
will make the sound stronger and more detailed. 

artist and title of each song, aptly 
named CD Text, that some CD players 
can display. If you'd like, type in the 
appropriate names for each track. 

The upper-right corner of the panel 
contains settings for Normalization. 
Normalizing raises your recording's 
volume level to take advantage of the 
full range of loudness that can be en- 
coded on a CD. It's best to choose the 
Normalize Globally option, which en- 
sures that each song is boosted an 
equal amount. Otherwise quiet songs 
would be made unnaturally loud rela- 
tive to loud songs. You should also set 
the Normalize Level. Choosing dB 
will make the disc as loud as it can be, 
but it's common practice to set the 
level to -1 dB to give CD players a 
little bit of a breathing room when 
dealing with loud material. Once 
you're done, click Burn, and, in a few 
minutes, enjoy your new disc. 

Polish Your Audio 

Nero's Wizard provides good re- 
sults, but if you want to get a great CD 
transfer, especially of an old or dam- 
aged tape, a bit of extra polishing goes a 
long way. After you've run the Wizard, 
having unchecked the Burn Project 
Immediately button, Nero displays 
your project in the main SoundTrax 



editing window. At any time 
when you're ready to burn the 
disc, you can select Burn To CD 
under the Tools menu. 

SoundTrax lets you drag and 
drop the songs you recorded to 
reorder them, as well as change 
the pause length between songs 
(dragging regions so they over- 
lap will create a cross-fade be- 
tween them). The real power of 
the software comes in its inte- 
gration with another Nero pro- 
gram called Wave Editor. To 
open Wave Editor, click a song 
to select it and hit the green 
button at the far right of 
the SoundTrax toolbar. Wave 
Editor launches and loads the 
song you selected. To edit a 
section of audio, select it by clicking 
and dragging on the waveform display 
with the cursor, and then use the 
menu commands to process the 
sound. For example, to create a fade- 
in at the start of a song, select from the 
beginning of the song until the point 
that you'd like the fade to end. You 
may need to listen to the song by 
pressing the Play button and watching 
as the cursor moves along the wave- 
form display to find the right spot to 
end the Fade-in effect. Then under the 
Volume menu, select Fade In, and 
choose the Linear option to set a con- 
stant rate of volume change. 

Sometimes it's best to apply pro- 
cessing to a whole song. In fact, when 
transferring a tape, it's usually best to 
select the whole tape for editing in 
Wave Editor and make changes to all 
the songs at once. For example, to re- 
move tape hiss and other noise, select 
the entire project using the Select All 
command and then choose Enhance- 
ment, Noise Reduction. When Nero 
makes changes to audio, it does it 
nondestructively. If you don't like 
what you just did, you can always 
undo it. After you've edited the audio 
to your heart's content, simply close 
the Wave Editor window to save your 
changes and they'll be reflected in the 
SoundTrax project. 



Build Your CD Library 

If you have lots of tapes, transfer- 
ring them all can be a big project. 
However, after you do the first one, 
you may find that the same audio en- 
hancement tricks you used for the 
first tape will work on the others. The 
best time to transfer your tapes is 
while you're busy doing other things 
and can listen to them in the back- 
ground. You'll probably transfer your 
favorite tapes first, and if you don't 
listen to the others, you may decide 
that they belong in a shoebox in the 
attic, rather than on a CD. 

Remember that CDs don't last for- 
ever; even the best CD-R brands 
deteriorate over time. You can maxi- 
mize their longevity by keeping 
them undisturbed in upright cases, 
in a cool, dry, dark place. But you 
should always keep a backup copy of 
everything important, and remember 
that in a few years you may be trans- 
ferring everything again to get rid of 
those obsolete CDs. [ijs] 

by Joseph S. Bell 



Noise Reduction 



Nero's Wave Editor can analyze 
the quiet parts of your tape to 
figure out how to remove noise 
from music. To do this, first select a 
portion of the audio that contains 
only noise (no audio) and select 
Noise Analysis from the Enhance- 
ment menu. This step creates a 
noise print so Nero knows what 
the noise you want to remove 
sounds like. Now select the whole 
tape, and choose Nose Reduction 
from the Enhancement menu. 
Select the Noise Print mode to use 
the signature you just created and 
then experiment with the Cain 
Floor and Reduction Level controls 
until you've removed the undesire- 
able noise, but not music. Click OK 
to apply your changes. I 



70 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Moving Data 



Memory Burn 

Save Your Videos To DVD 




With more than 109 million 
DVD players sold in the 
United States according to 
the Digital Entertainment Group, 
there's a good chance you own one. If 
so, you understand how much more 
convenient and capable that format is 
than VHS tapes in nearly every way. 
Don't you wish all of your old analog 
VHS movies and home videos were 
suddenly transformed into DVDs? 
With a computer and the right soft- 
ware and hardware, they can be. 

Build A Conversion Toolkit 

Transferring analog video tapes to 
digital DVD discs requires some spe- 
cial hardware and software that you 
may not already have. On the hard- 
ware side, you need a DVD recorder 
(often called a "DVD burner"), 
which used to be prohibitively ex- 
pensive but now can be found for as 
little as $50. Unfortunately there are 
so many competing standards, dif- 
ferent speeds, and other elements to 



consider that picking out this basic 
piece of hardware is a big deal. 

Fast recording speeds are nice, espe- 
cially if you plan to create a lot of 
DVDs. It takes a top-notch 16X DVD 
recorder less than six minutes to burn a 
complete single-layer disc, but it can 
take hours for an editing program to 
encode enough video to fill a DVD, so 
in the long run recording speed isn't 
much of an issue unless you plan on 
making multiple copies of the same 
disc. Buy a recorder that supports all of 
the major media formats (DVD-R, 
DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, CD- 
R, and CD-RW), plus dual-layer com- 
patibility (sometimes called DL) so you 
won't have a problem finding compat- 
ible discs, and get a name-brand unit. 

Once you install the DVD burner, 
you need a way to connect your VCR 
to your computer so you can transfer 
video between it and your PC. You can 
install an internal video capture card in 
your computer or an external box with 
video inputs that connect to the PC via 
a USB 2.0 or FireWire connection. 



Selecting Software 



Adobe Premiere Elements is an 
excellent program for beginners, 
but we tested several other products 
during the preparation of this article 
that also are great for analog-to- 
DVD work. Here's a list of our top al- 
ternative picks: 

Adobe Premiere 1.5 

($699.99; www.adobe.com) 

If you want total control over your 
editing and money is no object, 
Premiere 1.5 turns your home com- 
puter into a professional video studio. 

DVD-Lab Pro 

($199; www.mediachance.com) 

Looking for the best DVD menu- 
making program out there? DVD-Lab 
Pro is impossible to beat for the price. 

Pinnacle Systems' Pinnacle Studio 
Moviebox USB Version 9 

($249.99; www.pinnaclesys.com) 

A perfect all-in-one solution that 
comes with capture hardware and 
Pinnacle Studio 9 software that is 
the most user-friendly editing suite 
we've worked with. 

Ulead Videostudio 9 

($99.99; www.ulead.com) 

The latest version of the 
Videostudio program is simple to 
use but extremely powerful and 
comes with loads of special effects. I 

Internal video capture cards are more 
difficult to install, and having all of the 
input connections on the back of the 
PC isn't usually convenient. But many 
internal cards support hardware-accel- 
erated video conversion, which is 
vastly superior to software -based con- 
version. With hardware acceleration, 
the video capture card does the bulk of 
the video conversion work, whereas a 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 71 



\il Moving Data 










software-based 
capture feeds the 
incoming signal to 
your computer's 
CPU and forces it 
to do all of the 
work. We recom- 
mend buying a 
hardware-acceler- 
ated capture card if 
you can afford one, 
but if you have a 
fast computer with 
a processor that 
operates at a speed 
of 2GHz or faster, a 
software-based 
card works fairly well. Those who plan 
to capture video on a notebook com- 
puter must purchase an external video 
capture device because it is impossible 
to install an internal capture device. 

The amount of system memory in- 
stalled in the PC is nearly as impor- 
tant as the processor speed, with more 
always being better. Consider 512MB 
of RAM to be a bare minimum, but 
try to upgrade to at least 1GB of RAM 
for the best results. 

Large hard drive capacity and fast 
hard drive performance are crucial for 
smooth video capture and editing. 
Video files eat up tons of space, so be 
sure to have several gigabytes of hard 
drive space available before you begin 
capturing video, and make sure your 
hard drive operates at a minimum of 
7200rpm (revolutions per minute). 
For best results, install a second hard 
drive and do all of your capturing and 
video editing on that drive instead of 
the drive where Windows is installed. 

Most analog video devices support 
only composite video output (yellow 
RCA jacks), but if your VCR and cap- 
ture card support S-Video, use that 
instead of composite video. Analog 
audio is always transferred via red 
(right channel) and white (left 
channel) stereo RCA jacks. 

Don't simply run out and purchase 
a large spindle-full of cheap, blank 
DVDs that match up with your DVD 
recorder's statistics. Not all discs are 



Be sure to edit any DVD menus you se- 
lect or you'll end up with the default 
text on the final disc. 



created equally, 
and you should 
stick with name 
brands for best re- 
sults. Buy just a few 
discs at a time until 
you find the media 
that works best in 
your burner but 
also can be read by 
your standalone 
DVD player. Buy 
discs that are rated 
to operate at the 
maximum speed 

your DVD recorder 

can record, and if 
the recorder supports dual-layer 
burning, consider purchasing those 
types of discs (note that it takes about 
four times as long to burn a dual-layer 
disc as it does a single-layer disc). 
Single-layer discs store up to 4.7GB of 
data (equivalent to approximately two 
hours of DVD-compatible video), 
while double-layer discs store up to 
8.5GB (three to four hours of DVD- 
compatible video). Buy only discs that 
are supported by your playback hard- 
ware, which should be listed in the 
documentation that came with your 
DVD player. If you have an older 
player and that information is not 
listed, DVD-R and DVD+R media 
usually works, and sometimes DVD- 
RW and DVD+RW media also works, 
but some first-generation DVD players 
can't read any recordable discs at all so 
you may need to experiment. 

Software 

The next step is to install software 
that lets you utilize all of that hard- 
ware we just discussed. You can 
record and edit your analog video 
using separate programs or with a 
suite that handles everything, but the 
software you use must be capable of 
the following things: capturing video, 
editing video, converting video into a 
format that can be read by a standard 
DVD player, creating navigation 
menus, and burning video to DVDs. 



Use the video capture software that 
came with your capture device to 
handle the analog-to-digital conversion 
process. Then use a program that can 
edit, convert, burn, and otherwise ma- 
nipulate the video you've captured. 
Adobe Premiere Elements 1.0 ($99.99; 
www.adobe.com) includes all of the 
tools you need and is very easy to use, 
but we discuss some alternatives in the 
"Selecting Software" sidebar. 

Although we have no idea what 
hardware and software you opted for, 
most products work in similar ways. 
We'll guide you through the process 
using an external video capture device, 
which is easiest to install, and Adobe 
Premiere Elements, which is easy to 
use, available at most retail outlets, and 
very powerful for the price. 

Make The Capture 

Configuring your video capture 
hardware and software is the first step 
in making a good transfer. Most hard- 
ware is completely self-contained so 
there is no way to make adjustments. 
But one of the products we tested for 
this article, Canopus' ADVC55 ($229; 
www.canopus.com), has a row of inte- 
grated DIP (Dual-Inline Package) 
switches that can be turned on and off 
to change various settings. Check your 
hardware closely to see if any of these 
types of options are available. 

Usually, you'll adjust settings using 
the software that comes with the cap- 
ture device. Look for configuration op- 
tions, starting with a drop-down box 
that lets you select the video capture 
device you want to use. Sometimes 
your video card is listed as a capture 
device and if you want to use a separate 
internal or external capture device, 
you'll need to select it using this menu. 

Next you need to decide what 
format to use when transferring the 
video, selecting either AVI (Audio 
Video Interleave) or MPEG-2 (Moving 
Picture Experts Group-2). AVI files are 
easy to edit, making this a great option 
for transferring home videos and other 
content that benefits from the addition 



72 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



If^ Moving Data 



of transitions, music sound- 
tracks, and other special ef- 
fects. AVI files are uncom- 
pressed, meaning they take up 
a lot of hard drive space. They 
consume approximately 13GB 
per hour of video, meaning it 
would take three single-layer 
DVDs to hold one hour of 
AVI movies. 

DVD players can't read AVI 
files. They read MPEG-2 files. 
So if you want to copy an 
analog tape to a DVD, MPEG- 
2 is the format of choice, with 
a few exceptions. MPEG-2 is a 
compressed format, so it uses 
about five times less storage 
space than an AVI file of the 
same length, but the compres- 
sion process strains PC resources. 

Try transferring two short video 
clips to your PC using both AVI and 
MPEG-2 capture, play both of the 
files, and compare the results. If the 
AVI file looks superior to the MPEG- 
2 file, your computer or capture card 
isn't ideal for making on-the-fly 
MPEG-2 captures. If this is the case, 
make transfers using the AVI setting 
and then convert the file to MPEG-2 
before burning it to a DVD. 

If the two test files look the same, 
you can choose to transfer video using 
either file type. If you want to do exten- 
sive editing to the video and still have 
room on the hard drive to store files, 
go with AVI. If you only need to cut 
portions out of videos or rearrange seg- 
ments without adding a separate music 
soundtrack, scene transitions, and 
other effects, stick with MPEG-2. 

If the capture program asks you to 
select a TV standard, choose NTSC. If 
it lets you select an aspect ratio (the 
measure of a screen's width relative to 
its height), choose 4:3 unless you are 
transferring widescreen content (such 
as a letterboxed movie). In that case se- 
lect 16:9. If resolution settings also are 
available, select 720x480, which is the 
resolution supported by NTSC DVDs. 

Start recording, and then start 
playing the analog video you want to 




If your capture device offers a DVD NTSC option, use it unless you 
plan to do a lot of editing. 



capture. When the capture is in 
progress, don't launch any other pro- 
grams or do anything else with the 
computer, or the video stream may be 
interrupted. Most programs have a 
"lost frames" counter that tells you 
how many frames of video were not 
transferred properly and running other 
software (unless you have an excellent 
hardware-accelerated capture card) 
makes the lost frames count skyrocket. 

If you copy a movie, it's fairly easy 
to divide it into scenes using a video 
editor. But we recommend taking a 
different approach when transferring 
home movies. Record scenes from the 
home video separately, creating indi- 
vidual files for each scene, and then 
piece everything together in a video 
editor. Simply dumping a two-hour 
tape of a month's worth of memories 
onto the hard drive yields a file that is 
difficult to work with. You can save 
time by working with smaller files. 

Time To Edit 

After you've captured the video, you 
have a file (or series of files, if you cre- 
ated separate scenes) that ends in an 
.AVI or .MPG extension. These are 
loaded into the video editor for further 
processing. As an example for this ar- 
ticle, we transferred a wedding video 



with scenes from the rehearsal, 
the rehearsal dinner, and the 
wedding itself. Then we edited 
it using Premiere Elements. 

Launch Premiere Elements, 
click New Project, give the 
movie a name, and select 
where you want to store the 
project files (choose your 
second hard drive if you have 
one). Click OK, and when the 
program launches expand the 
File menu, click Add Media, 
select one of the video clips you 
captured, and click Open. The 
clip is added to the Media 
window. Repeat the process to 
add more clips, still images, or 
even sound files such as MP3s. 
To add clips and other ele- 
ments to the final movie, drag them 
from the Media window and drop 
them in the Timeline window near the 
bottom of the screen. Once you add the 
clips, you can rearrange them by drag- 
ging them around the timeline and 
dropping them into a different place. 

We captured our sample wedding 
video as one large file. The first task 
after capturing video is to make some 
basic edits to clean it up and chop it 
into separate clips. To create a smaller 
clip from a larger clip, use the Monitor 
window to find a frame of video that 
divides the two segments. When the 
frame is displayed, click the Razor tool 
in the Timeline window, position the 
razor blade directly over the red 
Current-Time line that is displayed 
vertically across the Timeline window, 
and click. This cuts the video, making a 
new clip in the process. You can also 
use the Razor tool to cut the beginning 
and end of segments of video that you 
want to delete, turning that segment 
into a separate clip. Then click the 
Selection tool in the Timeline window, 
click the clip you want to delete so that 
it is highlighted, expand the Edit menu, 
and click Ripple Delete. This removes 
the selected clip and pulls the sur- 
rounding clips together. 

If you want to get really fancy with 
editing, click the Effects button to bring 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 73 



\il Moving Data 




Making a clip out of a segment you want to get rid of is the best way to delete sections of a movie. 



up an Effects menu filled with audio 
and video effects and transitions. Use 
the effects to overlay graphics on top of 
the video, clean up the audio track, or 
add a variety of other special effects. To 
apply one of these effects, drag it and 
drop it onto the appropriate video or 
audio clip in the Timeline window and 
then press Enter to render the change 
and see or hear a preview. 

Transitions provide a variety of cin- 
ematic methods for switching between 
scenes. These include simple fades, 
dissolves, and wipes, along with non- 
traditional transitions such as swirls 
and page turns. Just drag and drop the 
desired transition between two clips 
on the timeline and a purple box ap- 
pears above the clips showing where 
the transition will take place. To edit 
the transition (making it longer, 
shorter, or changing other characteris- 
tics), double-click the purple box in 
the timeline and make adjustments in 
the Effect Controls box. Stick to 
simple transitions whenever possible 
and your audience will thank you. 
Page curls, weird shapes, and other 
fancy transitions may seem cool, but 
there's no denying the elegance of a 
simple fade between two scenes. 

Create Chapters & Titles 

The DVD format lets you divide 
your movies into separate chapters that 
you can access from the DVD's main 
menu. But you must add DVD 
Markers to the movie so the main 
menu knows where to go when you 



make a selection. Move the Current- 
Time line to the frame where you want 
to create a marker and click DVD 
Marker in the Timeline window. Give 
the marker a name, and then use the 
drop-down list to choose the type of 
marker you want to create. Main Menu 
Markers appear as separate buttons on 
the Main menu, whereas Scene Mar- 
kers appear as separate entries on a spe- 
cial Scenes menu that is accessible from 
the main menu. Stop Markers are used 
to return to the Main menu. We used 
Scene markers for our Wedding video, 
giving them names that corresponded 
to the on-screen action. 

You can also overlay titles at the be- 
ginning of each chapter or scene, or 
anywhere else within the video. Posi- 
tion the Current-Time line to the point 
where you want to add the overlay, 
click Titles, and then either select a title 
template or enter text directly using the 
tools in the Adobe Title Designer 
screen. Add titles wherever you like, in- 
cluding credits at the end. 

Make A Menu 

Once you've set up the chapters and 
titles, you can create a Main menu that 
lets you navigate to the DVD markers. 
Click DVD, click Change Template, 
and select the Auto-play DVD With 
No Menus radio button if you don't 
want to use a menu or select the Apply 
A Template For A DVD With Menus 
radio button and then use the drop- 
down Theme menu to select a tem- 
plate. Double-click elements of the 



templates to edit them, and click 
Preview DVD to make sure everything 
will work when you burn the disc. 

Burn To Disc 

Now we can create a DVD. Insert a 
blank disc into your recorder and click 
the Burn DVD button in Premiere 
Elements. Choose the Disc radio 
button and use the Burner Location 
drop-down list to select your DVD 
burner. Enter the number of copies 
you want to make in the Copies box. 
Keep in mind that when you burn the 
first disc, a lot of initial prep work is in- 
volved that makes the first copy take a 
lot longer than the rest of the copies 
during a burn session. Make as many 
as you think you'll need all at once to 
save time. Check the Fit Contents To 
Available Space box (the shorter your 
video is, the higher the overall quality 
will be, and try not to exceed two hours 
for a single-layer disc) and click Burn. 

Practice Makes Perfect 

Don't worry if your first DVD 
doesn't look good on your TV or 
doesn't work in your DVD player. 
Experiment with different media, 
capture settings, and burn settings 
until you find one that offers the best 
compromise for your hardware. Once 
you're past the trial-and-error phase, 
you'll crank out copies of your analog 
tapes like a pro. ® 

by Tracy Baker 



74 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



^J Moving Data 



How To Transfer 
8mm Film To DVD 

Moving Your Memories 




Call us behind the times. We had a 
huge library of music cassettes, 
and then CDs took over. We were 
so proud of our VHS movie collection, 
and then Hollywood moved to DVD. 
And don't ask how much we invested 
in our old film camera over the years. 

There are plenty of articles about 
how to use your computer to migrate 
your last-generation media to contem- 
porary digital formats. On the other 
hand, there aren't so many to help you 
when your treasured memories reside 
on even older technology, such as 78- 
rpm vinyl records. To redress the bal- 
ance a little, here's a guide to copying 
your old Super 8mm or Standard 8mm 
filmstrips to shiny, recordable DVDs. 

Shop It Out Or Self-Service? 

Digitizing your home movies means 
being able to watch them whenever 
you want, without having to drag out a 



heavy projector. You can edit out un- 
wanted footage and add music and 
commentary. Best of all, you'll have 
copies that won't continue to lose color 
and gain scratches over the years. Of 
course, we can't guarantee that nothing 
bad will happen to the DVDs you 
make, but at least you'll be able to 
make perfect backup copies of them for 
a couple of dollars. 

Unfortunately, there's a catch. Trans- 
ferring film to DVD at home can cost a 
pretty penny, though much less than it 
did a few years ago. The process also 
takes a good deal of time, and the result 
may not look as sharp as the original. 

We'll say right up front that if you 
only want to convert one or two film- 
strips to DVD, it will be cheaper and 
easier to let a quality video production 
house do it for you. Here are some 
pros and cons of both methods. 

Doing it yourself. For most of us, 
transferring an old film to DVD means 



Typical Equipment 
Necessary For Screen 
Transfers 



• Working projector 

• Camcorder and a blank tape 

• Cables 

• Video capture device or card 

• Recordable DVD drive that can 
write to DVD-R/RW and/or 
DVD+R/RW media 

• Software for capturing and editing 
video, as well as authoring DVDs 

• Blank DVDs, preferably DVD-Rs 
or DVD+Rs 

using the screen method, which in- 
volves projecting the home movie on a 
suitable white screen while your cam- 
corder records the result to tape or disc. 

Next, you'll connect your camcorder 
to your computer through a video cap- 
ture card (about $25 and up), such as 
an ATI All-in-Wonder 9600 XT ($146 
and up; www.ati.com), or via a stand- 
alone capture device, such as Plextor's 
ConvertX ($79 to $229; www.plextor 
.com). You'll play the tape in the cam- 
corder while using the capture card's or 
device's software to convert the video 
to a computer file. Many digital cam- 
corders don't need a capture device, as 
they can feed the tape's contents into a 
PC through a FireWire or USB 2.0 
port, as long as the capturing software 
allows this. Some can also can skip the 
tape entirely and feed live video to the 
PC, again with proper software, some- 
thing you may see advertised as "acting 
as a Web cam." 

Next, you'll edit the video file and 
author a DVD using the software that 
hopefully came with your capture de- 
vice or recordable DVD drive (about 
$46 and up). Authoring is a fancy term 
for making menus for your DVD. If 
you want to add narration, you'll need 
a microphone ($4 and up) compatible 
with your PC's sound card. Finally, 
you'll burn (write) the menus, video, 
and audio to a blank DVD-R or 
DVD+R (less than 20 cents in bulk). 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 75 



\il Moving Data 







When you're capturing video, unplug your Internet 
connection and shut down other programs. That includes 
antivirus, firewall, and anti-spyware utilities. 



Obviously, the screen method takes 
money and time, but afterward you'll 
have some respectable video equip- 
ment and the skills to use it. If a DVD 
doesn't turn out the way you hoped, 
you can rework it. It doesn't matter 
what type of film you're trying to con- 
vert, nor what kind of camcorder you 
use. And you can convert many other 
videotapes to DVD the same way. 

Farming it out. Your other option is 
to pay a local production house or a 
film transfer service to move your films 
to DVD. You may not have much con- 
trol over editing your movie, but you'll 
save yourself a lot of time and effort. 

Better video firms use a telecine to 
get the best quality film transfers. The 
type of telecine generally used for this 
application is a pricey machine that 
projects a film directly at video sensors 
instead of a screen. The result can have 
much higher resolution than a screen 
transfer, which is important if you're 
hoping to get still photos from an old 
film or preserve it for posterity. Be sure 
to ask a prospective company whether 
it uses a telecine or the screen method 
you could do at home. 

Although services vary, film transfer 
prices seem to have dropped. Many 
video houses offer tiered plans costing 
$35 or more for basic transfers with- 
out titles to several hundred dollars 
for such extras as color correction of 



individual scenes. Some 
may clip out overex- 
posed frames and film 
leader footage as part of 
the basic package. 

The Home Movie De- 
pot's (www.homemovie 
depot.com) Standard 
DVD package ($55.95 
and up, including ship- 
ping) lets you do some 
light editing over the 
Internet. After the com- 
pany digitizes your films, 
but before it commits 
the video file to DVD, it 
lets you log in to add 
chapter titles and music, 
among other things. 
If you really want to preserve your 
8mm film in the best practical way, 
ask the transfer service for a high-res- 
olution master copy of your video. 
This might not be in a readily view- 
able format like your DVD copy — 
which contains a compressed and 
relatively low-resolution MPEG-2 
(Moving Picture Experts Group-2) 
video file — but it will make future 
transfers the best possible. 

Equipment 

To do a screen transfer, clean your 
equipment according to the manufac- 
turers' recommendations. Make sure 
there's 10GB or more of free, defrag- 
mented hard drive space on your PC. 

Instead of a capture card, we chose 
Plextor's ConvertX PX-AV100U ($79). 
You connect your camcorder's video 
and audio cables to the ConvertX, and 
then a USB cable from the ConvertX to 
a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port on your com- 
puter. The ConvertX translates the 
video/audio signal to several file for- 
mats, aided by its included software. 

Our inexpensive ConvertX relied 
more on the computer's CPU than do 
its more upscale brothers, so Plextor 
recommended at least a 2.4GHz Pen- 
tium 4 and 256MB of RAM in order 
for us to work with high-quality video. 
You can get by with less if your capture 



device is beefier or you work with 
lower-quality settings. 

Tape The Film 

You'll need a dark room when you 
videotape your film, so have a flashlight 
handy. Place the screen so that it's per- 
pendicular to your projector and di- 
rectly in front of it. If you have to tilt 
the projector, the image will be skewed 
on-screen. This also applies to the cam- 
corder, so place it close to the projector 
with its lens at roughly the same level. 

Watch a bit of the film so you can 
sharpen the projector's focus. Next, 
zoom the camcorder in on the screen 
image until it fills the viewfinder. Leave 
its settings to automatic for now. If 
your camcorder has a recording quality 
setting, set it to the highest one. 

If your Super 8mm film has an 
audio track, the best way to capture 
this is to connect an appropriate cable 
from the projector's output jack to the 
camcorder's audio input. You may 
need to buy an adapter or cable from 
an electronics store, but it's worth it. 
The alternative — letting the projector's 
speaker blare into the camcorder's mi- 
crophone — will also pick up the pro- 
jector's whirring fan and flapping 
shutter, not to mention echoes from 
the right angles of the room. If your 
projector doesn't have an audio 
output, your choice may be limited to 
poor sound or no sound. 

When it's time to tape, douse the 
lights. Start the camcorder recording 15 



The Screen Method: 
Film To DVD 



1) In a dark room, videotape 
your 8mm film as you project it on 
a screen. 

2) Capture the video (transfer it 
from the tape to your computer) 
using a device such as Plextor's 
ConvertX or a video capture card. 

3) Edit the video and make 
menus for it. 

4) Burn the DVD. 



76 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



\f =i l Moving Data 



seconds before you run the film, so that 
the movie won't start too early in the 
tape and make the capture process dif- 
ficult later. Likewise, keep recording for 
15 seconds after the film to postpone 
the visual glitch caused by the ending 
of the video's control track (electronic 
timing signal created during recording). 

Afterward, play the tape back on a 
good TV. If the focus changes too 
much, set the camcorder to focus man- 
ually instead of automatically. Set the 
focus as the film runs, and then rewind 
both tape and film and try again. 

If the movie's colors 
look bad or change no- 
ticeably on the tape, set 
the camcorder's white bal- 
ance to manual, following 
the manufacturer's direc- 
tions. This will involve 
turning off the lights with 
the camera zoomed in on 
the white rectangle of light 
projected on-screen when 
the film is not threaded 
through the projector, 
then pressing the appro- 
priate button on the cam- 
corder. This process tells 
the camcorder what pass- 
es for white for the film- 
strip and how other colors 
should look in relation. 

If your taped film flick- 
ers badly, or gets brighter 
and darker, you may have to adjust the 
camcorder's aperture or shutter set- 
tings according to the manufacturer's 
instructions. 8mm film projects at 18 
to 24fps (frames per second), whereas 
the NTSC (National Television Stan- 
dards Committee) video standard used 
in the United States displays at 30fps. 
This makes the camcorder shoot some 
frames of video while the projector is 
between frames of film, creating optical 
illusions. Tape the film with different 
settings until the flickering goes away. 



Video/Audio Capture 

Once your video looks good, it's 
time to play it back in the camcorder 



and capture it with your computer. 
First, install your capture device per its 
instructions. We installed our Con- 
vertX's drivers, along with WinDVD 
Creator 2.0 on the same CD. Win- 
DVD Creator can capture and edit 
video, as well as author DVDs, al- 
though it's not always easy to use, nor 
very flexible. Plextor's site had updates 
for both the ConvertX's drivers and 
WinDVD Creator, so we downloaded 
and installed those. Finally, we con- 
nected the ConvertX to a USB 2.0 port 
behind the PC. 




The version of WinDVD Creator that came with our ConvertX offered 
relatively few choices of menu backgrounds and buttons. 



Next, hook up appropriate cables 
from the camcorder's audio and video 
outputs to the capture device's inputs 
(visit an electronics store if necessary). 
We used our ConvertX's composite 
video cable with yellow RCA plugs be- 
cause our camcorder couldn't output 
sharper video using an S-Video cable. 

Our ConvertX had audio inputs, 
but a video capture card may not. In 
this case, use your sound card's in- 
puts. If your filmstrip had no audio, 
leave out the audio cable during the 
capture process. You'll get a nice, 
silent video file ready for your narra- 
tion or background music. 

We disconnected our Windows XP 
Home PC from the Internet, then shut 



down its firewall, antivirus, and anti- 
spyware apps. This was to let our CPU 
avoid preventable glitches by concen- 
trating on processing video and audio. 
Next, we clicked Start, Control Panel, 
and Sounds And Audio Devices. Under 
the Audio tab, we changed the Sound 
Recording's Default Device field to the 
ConvertX, then clicked Apply and OK. 
Next, we launched WinDVD Cre- 
ator and chose Capture Video Into 
Hard Disk. On the right, we clicked the 
wrench icon to access the capture set- 
tings. Our only recording format 
choice was MPEG (a com- 
pressed format unsuitable 
for a video master), but we 
could select a DVD HQ 
(High Quality) profile. We 
clicked OK. 

We pressed Play on our 
camcorder, and our video 
began to roll in WinDVD's 
Preview panel in the upper 
left. Had our short Charlie 
Chaplin movie not looked 
OK there, we would have 
adjusted its picture in the 
capture settings. We re- 
wound the tape to the begin- 
ning, then played it again. 

A few seconds before the 

video began, we clicked 

WinDVD's big, red Record 

button. Ten seconds after 

the movie ended, we clicked 

the same button to stop recording. Be 

sure to click Project and Save Project, 

name your new file, and click Save. 

As You Like It 

Next, click the Edit icon between 
Capture and Author. The captured 
video will appear in the upper-right 
panel (the Video Library) as one scene 
(piece of video) icon. Click and drag it 
to the lower panel (the Storyboard), 
where you'll edit the video that will go 
to DVD. The icon will show the scene's 
first frame of video, which in our case 
was a black screen. 

You can view a highlighted scene in 
the Storyboard by clicking the Play 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 77 



\il Moving Data 



icon (hover the mouse 
pointer over WinDVD's 
icons to see what they're 
called) in the upper-left 
panel. We used the Preview 
panel's Seek slider and the 
Next and Previous Frame 
icons to pinpoint the start 
of a scene we wanted to re- 
move, then clicked the Split 
Clip At Current Position 
icon above the Storyboard. 
This broke the Storyboard 
video into two scenes, with 
the second one showing its 
first frame. That scene was 
now highlighted, so we 
found the end of the part 
we wanted to cut in the 
Preview panel and clicked 
Split Clip At Current Position again. 

Our Storyboard held three scenes: 
the video's beginning, the bad scene, 
and the end. We right-clicked the bad 
scene and chose Delete. Now the video 
would play as if the scene had never ex- 
isted. Use the Undo icon if you make a 
mistake. You can drag and drop scenes 
earlier or later in the movie. You can 
also click the Merge Clip With The 
Next Clip icon to unite two scenes 
(they'll all play back together in order 
on the DVD regardless of whether 
they're all split up at this point). 

If you're going to do major re- 
editing of your film, consider splitting 
your video into scenes before you drag 
them down to the Storyboard. Right- 
click its icon in the Video Library and 
choose Show Video Scenes. Auto De- 
tect will make a new scene every time 
the video's image changes abruptly, 
whereas By Time will create scenes of a 
certain length. Click Go when you've 
chosen one or the other. Making scenes 
doesn't "cut up" your original video 
file; it just sets waypoints to help you 
move scenes around in the editing 
process. Unfortunately, WinDVD 
wouldn't let us drag all 267 of our 
scenes to the Storyboard at once, so we 
clicked Undo and did our minor edits 
as described earlier without using Show 
Video Scenes. 




It's a kick to play back your home movies on DVD, but its compressed 
MPEG-2 (Moving Picture Experts Group 2) video format is no substitute for 
a true, high-resolution digital master made by a professional video house. 



To make a title, click the Title Effects 
icon in the center of the screen. Choose 
a style of animation, previewing it on 
the left, and drag it down to the begin- 
ning of your Storyboard (or the end to 
make credits). Type the title's text in the 
upper right. Use the surrounding icons 
to change the font, color, and duration. 

Before you go on, pick a few frames 
of video to use as backgrounds for 
your DVD's menu screens. Click the 
Capture Still Image icon under the 
Preview pane and save each frame as an 
image file. Save your project again. 

Time To Burn 

Moving along, click the Authoring 
icon. You'll make a Main Menu first, 
then a Chapter Menu. In the middle, 
click Select A Still Image Background 
For The Menu. Double-click one of the 
still images you captured above, then 
click Return To Top in the upper right. 

Next, click the Select Buttons For 
The Menu icon. Pick a button style to 
replace the default yellow splotches for 
Play Movie and Chapter Selection. 
Drag these where you want them to ap- 
pear, but don't move them too close to 
the edges of the screen or they'll appear 
partly off-screen on some TVs. 

To create the Chapter Menu, which 
lies behind the Chapter Selection icon 



on the Main Menu, click the 
Switch To Menu Picker 
Mode button on the lower 
left. Use the same icon to re- 
turn to Author Chapter 
mode after you double-click 
the Chapter 1 icon below. 
Next, select another of your 
still images for a background 
as you did for the Main 
Menu above. 

We fought through Win- 
DVD Creator's unclear pro- 
cess for choosing a layout 
and frames for our Chapter 
Menu, frequently resorting to 
the Undo and Return To Top 
icons when we seemingly 
got stuck. It rankled us that 
we couldn't remove or even 
move some screen objects, and that our 
choices were so limited. Use the Author 
Preview button to see how your menus 
will look and work on-screen as a view- 
er navigates it with a remote control. 

Finally, click Make Movie. The de- 
faults were correct for our type of TV 
(NTSC) and the best available quality 
level (DVD [1 hour]), so we clicked the 
right arrow icon twice to continue. 
Leaving the Burning Speed at Optimal, 
we dropped a blank DVD-R in our 
drive, and then clicked Start. 

Roll Credits 

In all honesty, we weren't deliriously 
happy with the DVD we made. We re- 
ally wanted a higher-quality picture 
and sound than our equipment and 
software delivered. We've had better 
results before, but only with a more 
expensive capture card and higher-end 
software. Keep this in mind if you're 
hoping to preserve your memories on 
the cheap. 

Whatever you do, do not throw 
away your old films after the transfer. 
One accident involving your new 
DVD, and you could irrevocably lose 
decades of treasured memories. H 

by Marty Sems 



78 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



^J Moving Data 



From The Photo 
Files 

Transfer, Store & Share Your Digital Images 



The procedures for getting photos 
from your old film camera were 
pretty straightforward. When 
the roll was shot, you removed the 
film properly, took it to a film-devel- 
oping shop, and came back later to 
pick up your prints. The greatest 
problems were usually finding money 
to pay the developing fees and finding 
safe, organized places for your prints. 
Digital photography has introduced 
a new set of questions for photogra- 
phers to answer. First, we must decide 
how to get our photos off of our cam- 
eras. Second, we must find a place and 
method of storage for all our digital 
files. Third, assuming we want others 
to see our photos, we need to find a 
way to make our digital images acces- 
sible to others so that we can share our 
favorite shots. 

Move Your Files 

Before you do anything else, you'll 
need to transfer your photos from 
your camera to a computer or some 
type of storage device. The most 
common method for the new digicam 
owner is using the camera's provided 
USB (Universal Serial Bus) cable to 
transfer images to a PC. However, 
there are other options, as well. 

If you choose to transfer images to 
your computer using a USB cable, 
you may need to first install the cam- 
era's driver software on your PC. 
Windows XP has many built-in dri- 
vers and can recognize many digital 
cameras. However, you should check 
the manufacturer's documentation to 
see if driver installation is required. If 



you need to install a driver, insert the 
installation disc that came with your 
camera and follow any on-screen in- 
structions. You may also need to 
restart your computer. 

Next, connect your camera to your 
PC using the USB cable that came with 
your camera. Most cameras use a spe- 
cial USB cable that has a small 5-pin 
connector on one end. Some cameras 
require only that you connect both 
ends of the USB cable. Others will not 
transfer images until you press a 
photo transfer button or turn the cam- 
era's mode dial to a data transfer set- 
ting. The users manual should describe 
the process for your camera. 

Most digital cameras come with 
basic image-editing software that can 
import your photos to your computer. 
If you double-click My Computer and 




see your digital camera listed in the My 
Computer window, you also can 
double-click the camera's icon and 
drag and drop files from your camera 
to a desired folder on your hard drive. 

Card readers. Many users eventu- 
ally turn to card readers for transfer- 
ring images to a PC. There are several 
benefits to using a card reader. First, 
card readers do not require batteries; 
a card reader draws all 
the power it needs from 
your PC's USB port. 
In contrast, when you 
dump images directly 
from your camera, its 
batteries drain relatively 
quickly. Second, if you 
or other members of 
your home have other 
devices with memory cards, you 
can reduce the number of drivers you 
must install. Device drivers can occa- 
sionally present conflicts. A card 
reader lets you transfer data from sev- 
eral devices without installing a driver 
for each. Last, if you have a card 
reader, you can perform some basic 
scanning and restoration operations 
on your memory cards should you 
encounter corrupted data on a 
memory card. 

When you select a card reader, 
make sure it supports the type of 
memory card your camera uses. If you 
have other devices that use different 
types of memory cards, you might 
want to buy a multiformat or universal 
reader, such as SanDisk's ImageMate 
12-in-l Reader/Writer ($34.99; www 
.sandisk.com), which can read CF-I/II 
(CompactFlash Type I or II), miniSD 
(mini SecureDigital), MMC (Multi- 
MediaCard), MS (Sony Memory 

stick), ms Duo/pro/pro duo, rs- 

MMC (Reduced-Size MMC), SD, 
SmartMedia, and xD (eXtreme Digital 
Picture Card). Another option is 
PNY's Multi-Slot 2.0 Reader ($39.95; 
www.pny.com), which reads CF, 
MMC, MS, and SD cards. 

We used a SanDisk CF Type I/II 
ImageMate USB reader ($19.99; www 
.sandisk.com) to transfer photos from 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 79 



\il Moving Data 



A memory card reader, such as this 
CompactFlash reader by SanDisk, can 
make image transfer from a card to a 
PC very simple. 




Canon's 
PowerShot 
G5. This card 
reader supports 
Hi-Speed USB (or USB 2.0). Our com- 
puter's ports support Hi-Speed USB, 
but because the technology is back- 
ward-compatible, the card reader 
would have also worked with a Full- 
Speed USB (aka USB 1.1) port, al- 
though transfer speeds would likely 
have been slower. We followed the in- 
structions in the users manual, which 
instructed us to insert the enclosed CD 
and install the driver before we con- 
nected the card reader to the USB port. 
We followed the on-screen instructions 
and then restarted the computer. Next, 
we connected the card reader to our 
PC's USB port. When we were ready to 
transfer images, we simply inserted the 
CF card in the card reader's slot. The 
SanDisk CF Type I/II ImageMate USB 
reader has a button that will automati- 
cally transfer images to the hard drive, 
but we could also double-click My 
Computer, double-click the card read- 
er's icon, and drag and drop image files 
to a desired folder on the hard drive. 

Media storage devices. If you're 
taking a vacation and don't have a 
notebook to which you can transfer 
images, you may want a portable 
storage device, such as SmartDisk's 
40GB FlashTrax ($399.99; www 
.smartdisk.com). These devices typi- 
cally have built-in memory card 
slots and an LCD (liquid-crystal dis- 
play) for viewing photos. It is a 
handy way to get pictures off a card 
so that you can format it and take 



more pictures. Later, you 

can connect the storage 

device to your PC and 

transfer the images to your 

computer. Procedures for 

transferring images to and 

from the storage device vary, 

but in general, most of these 

products make the process very 

quick and intuitive. 

Portable disc burners. There is an- 
other option for those who need to 
transfer images from a memory card 
while on the go. A handful of compa- 
nies make portable CD burners, 
which can read data from a memory 
card and burn it to a disc without the 
use of a PC. These devices are similar 
to media storage devices except that, 
instead of storing images on a hard 
drive, they burn the images to a 
removable media, such as a CD-R 
(CD-recordable) or CD-RW (CD- 
rewriteable). The Apacer DISC 
STENO CP200 ($299; www.apacer 
.com) is an example of one such de- 
vice. This portable CD burner has 
built-in card slots for CF-I/II, MMC, 
MS, MS PRO, SmartMedia, and SD 
cards. You can also connect the 
CP200 to a TV to view images you've 
burned to disc. 

Organize Your Files 

As you accumulate a large collec- 
tion of digital photos, you will need 
to develop some organizational 
method for these files. For those who 
don't take many photos, it may 
simply work to rename files. For in- 
stance, if a file named IMG_2048.JPG 
is a picture from your friend Dave's 
birthday party, you could click the 
IMG_2048.JPG file in Windows 
Explorer, press F2, and type a new, 
more descriptive name for the file, 
such as DaveBirthday2005.JPG. 

If you have a larger collection of 
photos, it may not be practical to re- 
name every file. Instead, you might 
create a new folder by clicking the File 
menu, New, and Folder and then 
typing a descriptive name, such as 



Dave's Party 2005. You can then 
move all photos from Dave's party 
into this folder. 

Yet another popular organiza- 
tional method is to organize files by 
date. This is especially useful if you 
take a lot of photos. You can create a 
folder for each year. Within each 
folder, you can create a folder for 
each month. Within each month's 
folder, you may choose to create sub- 
folders named by days of the month 
or by occasion or subject matter 
(with folder names such as Flowers, 
Holidays, and Family). 

There are also many programs avail- 
able that can organize your photos for 
you. Both Adobe Photoshop Album 
2.0 ($49.99; www.adobe.com) and 
Corel (formerly Jasc) Paint Shop 
Photo Album 5 ($49; www.corel.com) 
include organizational tools. These 
programs generally let you organize 
images into themed folders or albums, 
rename entire groups of images, and 
add keywords or descriptions that 
make later sorting and searching both 
easy and efficient. 

The types of pictures you take will 
dictate which organizational method 
is right for you. Feel free to develop 
your own unique organizational 
method. What is important is that 
you have some means of sorting and 
locating your pictures, even as your 
collection grows to hundreds or even 
thousands of image files. 

A Place For Every Picture 

Transferring images from your 
camera is only the first consideration 
in digital photography. Depending on 
the size of your memory card, you can 
potentially take hundreds of photos 
on each card. In addition, there are 
none of the developing fees associated 
with film photography. For these rea- 
sons, you are very likely to take many 
more photos with your digital camera 
than you did with your film camera. 
As you accumulate more and more 
photographs, you are likely to run low 
on storage space. Eventually, you will 



80 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



g) Moving Data 



When you don't have a computer handy, 
you can transfer your photos to a device 
such as SmartDisk's FlashTrax. 

probably need a way to 
store more of your pic- 
tures. There are sev- 
eral ways that you 
can do this. 

External hard 
drives. One of 
the most popular 
places to store files is on 
an external hard drive. An ex- 
ternal hard drive operates almost ex- 
actly like an internal hard drive. It will 
appear in the My Computer window, 
and you can save files to it just as you 
would to your C: drive or any in- 
stalled internal drive. A full-sized ex- 
ternal hard drive requires its own 
power source. Small, portable drives 
may have an internal battery and get 
extra power from a Fire Wire or Hi- 
Speed USB connection. As an ex- 
ample, Apple's 20GB iPod ($299; 
www.apple.com) has an internal hard 
drive that can store files. You do not 
need to plug it into a surge protector 
or other power source when transfer- 
ring files because the iPod has a built- 
in Li-Ion (lithium-ion) battery and 
gets additional power from a com- 
puter's powered Hi-Speed USB or 
FireWire port. However, traditional 
external hard drives come with a 
power cable and a data cable, gener- 
ally either a USB or FireWire cable. 

Removable media. Many people 
save image files to removable media, 
such as recordable/rewriteable CD and 
DVD media. There are several benefits 
and several disadvantages to storing 
files in this way. One of the greatest 
benefits is that you don't need to 
make any large, costly purchases up 
front. Instead of paying for an external 
hard drive, you can buy packages of 
recordable discs as you require the ad- 
ditional storage space. Over time, the 
cost of using discs will accumulate, 
but you have considerable freedom 
because you can buy as many or as few 
discs as you need. Another benefit is 




that discs are highly 
portable. Not only 
can you store your 
photos on CDs and 
DVDs, but you can 
also take them with 
you for later viewing 
on another computer. 
There are some disad- 
vantages, though. The 
first is that you have to 
^^■^^ treat your discs with 
^H At care so that they do 

^^^^ not get scratched, 

possibly making them un- 
readable. The second drawback is that 
discs do not have an unlimited 
lifespan. Although with proper care, 
your discs should last for years, you 
will need to create backups of the data 
at some point so that you do not lose 
the photos you burned to disc. 

Online storage sites. Many people 
store their photos on online photo- 
sharing sites. We will discuss online 
photo sharing in more detail later in 
this article. What is 
important to note 
about online storage 
is that, although it 
is a good temporary 
means of storage, 
you should have 
your own hard back- 
up of your files else- 
where. If a company 
unexpectedly goes 
out of business, there is no guarantee 
that you will be able to retrieve your 
photos from the company's servers. 
For example, in late 2001, PhotoPoint, 
an online photo-sharing site, went out 
of business. Many users had not kept 
backup copies of photos they had up- 
loaded to PhotoPoint. When the site 
went down without notice, these 
photos were inaccessible. A third-party 
company later offered to burn users' 
photos to CDs for a fee. The moral of 
this story is that you should always 
have your own copies of any photos 
you store online. 

Although some of us simply take 
photos for our own enjoyment, most 




Windows XP can automatically 
resize a photo so that it is an ideal 
size for email. 



of us want to share some of our pic- 
tures with family, friends, or even the 
general public. With image-editing 
software, online photo services, home 
printers, and specialty inkjet papers, 
the ways to share your photos are lim- 
ited only by your own imagination. 

Email. Most of us share our digital 
photos through email. This is one of 
the simplest and most efficient ways 
to show others our photos. Unless 
your family members and friends 
have email accounts that provide 
ample server storage space and allow 
large email attachments, you may 
need to resize a photo before you 
send it. If you have a IMP or 2MP 
(megapixel) camera, you may be able 
to send unedited image files. How- 
ever, if you have a 5MP or 6MP 
camera, you will almost certainly 
need to reduce the file size before you 
send the photo through email. 

Even if you do not have image- 
editing software, you can resize photos 
before you send them. First, locate 
the image you want 
to send. Right-click 
it, point to Send 
To, and click Mail 
Recipient. A Send 
Pictures Via E-Mail 
dialog box will ap- 
pear. Make sure the 
Make All My Pictures 
Smaller radio button 
is selected and click 
the OK button. Your email application 
will load with a resized copy of the 
photo attached to a new message. 

Most image-editing software also 
has options for resizing photos. In 
some programs, you must resize an 
image first and save it to your hard 
drive. In other programs, you can 
simply click an Email button or menu 
item and then select the desired image 
resolution from a dialog box. In gen- 
eral, 640 pixels x 480 pixels is a good 
resolution for most email attach- 
ments. When a recipient wants a 
larger photo or more detail, you 
might send a slightly larger copy, such 
as a 1,024- x 768-pixel image. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 81 



\il Moving Data 



Photo-sharing sites. Many people 
use online photo-sharing sites, such as 
Kodak's EasyShare Gallery (www.ko- 
dakgallery.com) or smugmug (www 
.smugmug.com), to upload images and 
create albums that others can view. 
One benefit of posting images online is 
that you don't need to clog others' in- 
boxes with large image files. Instead, 
you can simply send friends and family 
members a link to your photos. If a vis- 
itor wants a copy of one of your 
photos, she can choose to download 
the file, assuming that you have config- 
ured your online album so that visitors 
can download images. Many photo- 
sharing sites also provide an option for 
visitors to order print copies of photos. 
This can be very handy. For instance, 
let's say some new parents upload 50 
photos of their baby. Now the proud 
grandparents can see all 50 photos, 
download as many as they wish, and 
order prints of their favorites. Some 
photo-sharing sites are free, and others 
require a monthly or annual subscrip- 
tion. These online services offer a va- 
riety of storage, security, and sharing 
options, so most users can find a photo 
site that meets their needs. 

Make prints. In the early days of 
digital photography, many worried 
about how they might get high-quality 
prints of their photos. Today, there 
are many companies willing to make 
traditional photographic prints from 
your digital image files. You can likely 
find a store in your own hometown 
that offers printing from memory 
cards, CDs, or DVDs. For example, 
Wal-Mart, Target, and several other 
well-known retail chains have photog- 
raphy departments that can print your 
digital files. In addition, most of the 
photo-sharing sites offer printing ser- 
vices. Examples of such sites include 
dotPhoto (www.dotphoto.com), Ko- 
dak's EasyShare Gallery, Shutterfly 
(www.shutterfly.com), smugmug, and 
HP's Snapfish (www.snapfish.com). 

If you have WinXP, you can easily 
send your digital images in to get 
prints. If the photo you want to print 
is within your My Pictures folder, you 



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The Kodak EasyShare Gallery (formerly Ofoto) 
is one site that gives you the space and tools 
necessary to share your photos online. 

can open the folder containing the 
photo and click Order Prints Online 
under Picture Tasks in the left pane of 
the window. A dialog window will ap- 
pear with a list of services from which 
you can order prints. Follow the in- 
structions on-screen to order copies 
of your photo. 

If you have a quality inkjet or photo 
printer, you can also print photos at 
home. Advances in printer technology 
in the past several years have made it 
possible for most users to print photos 
at home for an affordable price. 
Printers such as the Epson Stylus 
Photo R320 inkjet printer ($179.99; 
www.epson.com) or the Canon 
PIXMA iP90 portable photo printer 
($249.99; www.canonusa.com) can 
produce high-quality, borderless prints 
worthy of sharing or framing. To take 
full advantage of these printers, you 
should buy photo paper, as recom- 
mended by the manufacturer. 

In addition, there are many spe- 
cialty papers available that let you 
create a variety of crafts using your 
digital images and your inkjet printer. 
For example, you can buy printable 
magnetic paper, iron-on transfers, 
stickers, window decals, fabrics, and 
even sheets of Shrinky Dinks, oven- 
shrinkable plastic. 

Create a photo disc. Just as you 
can burn discs of images for storage 
and backup purposes, you can also 
burn discs to send to friends and 
family. You may simply choose to 
copy files to the disc; however, there 



are many programs that let you pro- 
duce creative photo presentations. 
For instance, Adobe Photoshop 
Album 2 has tools for creating your 
own photo slideshows as well as 
burning your own photo CDs. CD- 
and DVD-creation software, such as 
Roxio's Easy Media Creator 7.5 
($99.95; www.roxio.com), also often 
include handy tools for creating 
photo slideshows. 

Connect your camera to a TV. 
Some digicams include an AV cable 
that lets you connect the camera to a 
TV. If your camera has an AV cable, 
you can simply plug one end into the 
designated jack on your camera and 
plug the other ends into the appro- 
priate audio- and video-in jacks on 
your TV. You may need to also tune 
your TV to a specific channel (see 
your TV owners manual; this is often 
Line In, Video 1, Video 2, Channel 2, 
or Channel 3). Then you can use your 
camera's controls to flip through your 
photos. There are many situations in 
which camera-to-TV viewing could 
be handy. For example, when you're 
on vacation, your family might want 
to look at the photos from the day. 
Simply plug the camera into the TV 
in the hotel room and you can relive 
the day. 

The Versatile Digital Image 

The irony of digital photography is 
that many hesitate to convert to dig- 
ital photography because of a percep- 
tion that it will be harder to print and 
share photos. However, once you 
learn to transfer, store, and back up 
your image files, you may actually feel 
that you have more options than you 
did with film because you have far 
more control over the process. You 
do not need to pay for or wait for de- 
veloping. You can also use software, a 
printer, inkjet paper, and even the 
Internet to find unique ways to share 
your photos with others. [S] 

by Kylee Dickey 



82 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



jg) Moving Data 



Online Photo 
Albums 

Let The World Rummage Through 
Your Shoebox Of Photos 




For two decades you've been 
trying to get back at your child- 
hood friends for all the nasty 
pranks they pulled on you, and you've 
finally found some childhood photos 
that should do the trick. Now it's time 
for your friends to suffer. The whole 
world needs to see those photos. You 
need to put them online. Revenge will 
only cost you the price of a scanner 
and an Internet connection. Smart 
Computing is here to lend a hand. 
We'll help you get your revenge and 
get those photos online. 



Before You Begin 

Choose a well-composed photo. 
This may be one of those "duh" sug- 
gestions, but some people have unrea- 
sonable expectations of technology. 
Image editors can do wonders, such as 
clean up a photo's color and fix 
scratches, but they have limits. 

Posting photos online the old-fash- 
ioned way meant sloshing through 
time-intensive steps such as sizing the 
scan, manually correcting the image, 
and typing in the HTML (Hypertext 



Markup Language) code. Today, 
those steps have been replaced with 
autosizing, autocorrection, and drag- 
and-drop Web design. Additional 
shortcuts, such as scanners that can 
scan multiple slides and photo sites 
that can grab all your photos at once 
and post them automatically, will not 
only save hours; they'll save you days. 

Transform Your Prints Into 
Digital Photos 

The first step is scanning. Your 
scanner should come with some form 
of scan software. Or you may be able 
to scan directly from your image- 
editing program, using just about any 
TWAIN-compliant (Technology 
Without An Interesting Name) pro- 
gram. You'll usually find this option 
under the File menu. 

Scanners today are more or less self- 
sufficient. If your scanner is turned on 
and connected, all you have to do is 
drop a photo on the glass. In some 
cases the software will recognize the 
presence of the photo, frame it, and 
give you a preview of the image ready 
to be scanned. At this point you could 
just press the Scan button. 

That may work fine for just one 
scan. But if your goal is to turn a 
shoebox of photos into an online 
photo album, there are many consider- 
ations that will save you time and im- 
prove the appearance of both the 
photos and the entire photo album. 

The first consideration is resolution. 
Chances are you'll make the mistake of 
scanning too high rather than scan- 
ning too low. If your objective is 
simply to scan the image for the Web, 
set the scan resolution to 72dpi (dots 
per inch). The Web's resolution on a 
monitor is about 72dpi. (On some 
scan programs, 75dpi is the only op- 
tion.) If you also want to print the 
image or archive it, set the resolution 
at 150dpi or higher. Scanning at a 
higher dpi takes longer and will add an 
extra layer of work because you'll have 
to resample the image back to 72dpi to 
display it online anyway. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 83 



\il Moving Data 



If your scanner hasn't automatically 
made a preview of your image, press 
Preview now. The Preview function 
lets you frame your scan. Recognizing 
the image, the scan program will frame 
the whole image. To change the sizing 
or position of the frame, click and drag 
the corners or the whole frame. If 
you're scanning lots of photos and you 
have a slow processor, set the preview 
to black and white. That will save a lot 
of time. After you crop the preview, go 
ahead and scan. 

Almost everything else is out of your 
control until you get the picture into 
the image-editing program. Some 
higher-end scanners have gamma cor- 
rection. An image's gamma is its mea- 
sure of contrast and brightness. With 
low-end scanners, dark shadows may 
scan black, and light highlights may 
scan white. With a high-end scanner, 
those areas will have shaded gradients 
and won't wash out. 

If the scan is complete and the image 
looks great, it's time to save. Your 
choices of formats probably include, 
but are not limited to, JPEG (Joint 
Photographic Experts Group), GIF 
(Graphics Interchange Format), 
and TIFF (Tagged Image File For- 
mat). When saving photos for the 
Web, the best format to use is JPEG 
because JPEG (sometimes written 
JPG) gives the best quality with the 
most colors while keeping the file 
size small. Because many of your 
visitors will be browsing your site 
via a 56Kbps (kilobits per second) 
modem, you'll need to keep file 
sizes down. Later, when you edit 
your photo, you'll learn even more 
tricks to shrinking the image's file size. 

Scanning Tips 

Different types of images have dif- 
ferent scanning needs. We'll tell you 
the best ways to get your images ready 
to go online. 

Old photos. It is perfectly safe to 
scan heirloom photos. Delicate images 
are not in danger of being destroyed by 
a scanner's light. They are in danger of 



being destroyed by your hands. Be 
careful how you handle the photos 
when you set them down to scan. Old 
photos with cardboard mounts tend to 
curl when you remove them from their 
mounts. After removal be especially 
careful when you press them on the 
scanner. When they curl, old photos 
have a tendency to crack. 

Keep your scanner clean. If your 
scanner is dirty, that dirt and dust will 
go right back onto your photo and 
will stay sealed when you put the 
photo away. And it'll show up on the 
scan, too. While you're at it, keep 
your photos clean. A dirty photo will 
leave dirt on the scanner for the next 
photo to pick up. When you're clean- 
ing the scanner and your photos, 
clean your hands or wear gloves. Oil 
from your hands goes from the photo 
to the scanner to the next photo. In 
addition, that oil will accelerate the 
deterioration of your photos. 

Pictures you didn't shoot. It is not 
OK to simply take someone else's 
photo and post it online with the cap- 
tion "Copyright 2001, Bob Smith" 





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You can choose the layout options for thumbnails in 
FrontPage's Photo Gallery. 



without getting Bob Smith's permis- 
sion. You may think you're not in- 
fringing on a copyright because you're 
giving Bob Smith credit, but it's 
simply not legal. Before you post a 
photo that's not yours (such as an 
image from a magazine or newspaper) 
on your site, you need to get permis- 
sion from the owner or photographer. 
If you do scan a photo from a maga- 
zine, make sure to check the Descreen 
filter. Photos that appear in a magazine 
have a screen placed over them that 



turns them into a halftone. To scan a 
halftoned image, the dots that make up 
the image need to be removed by de- 
screening. If you don't descreen a 
halftone image, the result is a moire 
pattern that looks like a rose, herring- 
bone, or crosshatched effect over your 
image. Many image-editing programs 
have features to remove moires, but 
it's best to eliminate it during the scan. 
Slides or negatives. If you intend to 
scan slides or negatives, you can't just 
drop the slide on a flatbed scanner. 
You'll need a scanner with a 35mm 
slide adapter. You can find flatbed 
scanners that can read 35mm slides for 
less than $150. There are also a handful 
of specialty scanners made just for 
scanning 35mm slides and 35mm film, 
which cost considerably more. Besides 
superior quality, the best advantage of a 
slide scanner is that it lets you scan 
multiple slides or negatives unattended. 
Large photos. If the photo you're 
scanning is larger than the glass on the 
scanner, you can scan sections and 
then join the multiple scans together 
through a process called "stitching." 
Some image-editing programs refer 
to the process of combining a series 
of photos together as the panorama 
effect. To ensure a good stitch, be 
consistent when scanning. Keep the 
image straight and make sure each 
scanned section overlaps the ad- 
joining sections. To prevent possible 
variations in scans, turn off any au- 
tomatic features such as autocon- 
trast. Once all sections have been 
scanned, line them up and stitch 
them together into one image. If 
your editing program can't stitch 
photos together, download the share- 
ware program Ulead COOL 360 
($39.95; www.ulead.com). 

Image-Editing Tips 

You want your images to look their 
best. We understand that, so here we 
offer some tips to help you get your 
images in shape. 

Choose an image editor. You've 
probably heard of Photoshop, and 



84 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



\f =i l Moving Data 



VisUSm*. 



people may have told you it's the 
image-editing program. They're right, 
but it might not be the right program 
for you. First of all, it costs $649. Yikes! 
Second, Photoshop is designed for pro- 
fessionals preparing photos and 
graphics for print. It may be far more 
image-editing power than you need. 
Adobe, the publisher of Photoshop, 
also publishes a less expensive program 
called Photoshop Elements 3.0. This 
lower-end product sells for $99.99 and 
is designed for home use. 
For about the same money 
you could get Paint Shop 
Pro ($129; www.corel.com), 
which combines Photo- 
Deluxe's ease of use with the 
power of Photoshop. How- 
ever, most scanners today 
come with image-editing 
programs that will probably 
be fine for casual use. 

Clean up your images. 
Everyone has photos they 
would love if only their 
friends didn't appear to have 
red eyes or orange skin. And 
as much as you'd like to 
think that your brother truly 
is the devil, the poor coloring 
is almost certainly the result of a faulty 
camera and bad lighting. Also, old 
photos fade, and they get smudges, 
folds, and tears in them. All of that can 
be fixed with some creative editing. 

A lot of image editing requires a 
good eye. This article will help you 
train your eye to notice color problems. 
Luckily, your image editor is loaded 
with auto-correct features. These can 
instantly fix color, saturation, contrast, 
and brightness problems. 

Begin by using the editor's auto-cor- 
rect features and then take a close look 
at your image. Chances are it looks a 
lot better than your original scan. If 
you're not happy with the program's 
attempts to fix your image, you can 
make manual adjustments to the pho- 
to's highlights, midtones, and shadows. 

If the subjects in your picture have 
red eyes, there's an tool to remove 
that, too. All you have to do is point 



the program's red-eye tool to the af- 
fected area. The image editor will take 
care of the rest. 

Scans can often soften photos, so 
some people like to use the Sharpen 
effect. Sharpening doesn't actually add 
information to the photo; it simply in- 
creases contrast at the boundaries that 
go from light to dark. Don't overdo 
sharpening. It can cause strange dis- 
tortions, also known as artifacts, to 
appear on the outlines and in the 




Some scanning programs, such as VistaScan from UMAX, will find 
your image and crop it for you. 



smooth areas of your picture. To 
combat this problem, utilize the 
Unsharp Mask feature. This will only 
sharpen the areas that vary in contrast 
given a certain manually set threshold. 
This way your sky remains intact 
while your subject stands out more. 

The next step is to clean up imper- 
fections in the image, such as scratches 
and fingerprints. The latest versions of 
image-editing programs have wizards 
to help you zero in on and clean up 
scratches. If it's a bad problem that has 
to be erased, such as a huge fingerprint, 
you can try the Clone tool, which you 
can use to copy an unblemished part of 
the image to another location. 

Now that your photo is all cleaned 
up, crop it and adjust the image size. 
Maintain the aspect ratio when you 
shrink it. If the resolution is not al- 
ready at 72dpi, you can reduce it 
now. Don't put borders on your 



image. It only adds data that in- 
creases file size. 



Upload Your Pictures To A Photo Site 

If you don't have your own Web site 
and all you care about is sharing photos 
with family and friends, save yourself 
the headache of hosting your own 
photo album and just upload the pic- 
tures to a photo site. There are tons of 
online photo services, and they're fan- 
tastic. Many let you send in your 
35mm film, and they'll develop, 
scan, and send you a copy of the 
prints in addition to posting the 
photos online. Simply posting 
online is usually free. But even 
with the fee that some sites 
charge, the services they offer are 
worth the money. Three of our 
favorites are ClubPhoto (www 
.clubphoto.com), Snapfish (www 
.snapfish.com), and Ofoto (www 
.ofoto.com). 

Select a site and sign up for an 

account. Your photo albums can 

be public or password-protected. 

You can upload all your photos 

in a single batch. Once uploaded 

the site will automatically create 

your photo album represented as a 

page of thumbnail images of every 

photo. This is the page that you would 

email to all your friends. Click each 

thumbnail to see the larger image. 

These sites don't make money just 
by bringing family and friends to- 
gether. The traffic helps generate ad 
dollars, but they make their real 
money when visitors buy prints of 
your photos. 



Prep The Photo For Your Web Site 

You've created the best picture you 
can. Now, without significantly low- 
ering the display quality of the image, 
you want to shrink the image to the 
smallest file size possible. This lets your 
photo-laden Web pages load quickly. 

Earlier we explained that IPEG 
was the best format because it had 
the best combination of quality and 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 85 



\il Moving Data 





No Compression, 54K 



25% Compression, 1 4K 





50% Compression, 9K 



90% Compression, 4K 



Each of these pictures is saved at a different compression. Notice how the JPEG image 
starts to break up at the highest compression. 



small file size. What makes JPEG 
even better is that it lets the user set 
the quality/file size tradeoff level. 
Quality is proportional to file size. 
The crisper the picture, the larger 
the file size and vice versa. But it 
isn't an either/or decision. There are 
many levels to choose from in be- 
tween. See the photos above. 

Which one is acceptable to you? 
Between 0% and 25% compression, 
the image quality barely changes, but 
the file size decreases by 40KB. At 
50% the file size drops another 5KB, 
but the faces start to break up. At 90% 
the faces are quite distorted. Use the 
Options menu to change the com- 
pression level. 

You can also save the image as a 
progressive JPG. A progessive image 
begins to display as a blurry cluster of 
colors and then slowly comes into 
focus as it loads. This lets a visitor 
with a slow connection sees some- 
thing almost immediately; it acts as an 
image placeholder on the page. The 
alternative is for the user to see 
nothing for however long it takes the 
image to completely load, and then to 
have the image suddenly appear. 



Generally, smaller images need not be 
progressive; larger images, though, 
are candidates for the progressive 
treatment. If you decide to save an 
image as progressive, you can choose 
that option from the Options menu. 

The latest version of Paint Shop 
Pro includes a JPEG optimizer that 
lets the user see what a photo would 
look like online at different compres- 
sion levels. The tool also estimates 
download times over different con- 
nection speeds. You'll probably find 
that this is a handy and simple way to 
optimize image placement on a page. 

Place the picture on the Web page. 
Most Web design programs make the 
process of inserting a picture easy. 
Simply create a new "Pictures" folder 
in your Web program and copy your 
photos into that folder. Then, in most 
applications, select Insert and then 
Picture. A dialog box will appear, let- 
ting you select the photo from your 
new Pictures folder. Once the image is 
on the page, you can change properties 
of the picture, such as its orientation, 
alignment, and border thickness. 

You'll probably want to place your 
photos in a table because this allows 



you to easily control their alignment 
with one another, as well as their rela- 
tive positions. It also helps ensure that 
the layout will look the same in dif- 
ferent browsers and on different types 
of computers. 

Keep a limit on the number of 
photos you put on any one page. You 
don't really want the total content on a 
single page to exceed 50KB, which 
means that you can put five 10KB 
pictures or two 25KB pictures per page. 
But it's better to always stay small. A 
Web page will load faster with five 
10KB pictures than one 50KB picture. 

Use thumbnails. Your friends 
probably aren't interested in every 
photo you have. The latest version of 
FrontPage has a Photo Gallery option 
that automatically creates a photo 
album complete with thumbnails. To 
access this option, select Insert, Web 
Component, and then Photo Gallery. 
Select one of the gallery styles and 
click Finish. A dialog box appears 
with instructions to add photos, write 
a caption and a description, plus des- 
ignate the thumbnail size. If you don't 
have FrontPage, Web Album Creator 
(www.galleriasoftware.com) can also 
do the job for only $24.95. 

Timesaving Tips 

Creating a photo album can be time 
consuming. The easiest option is to 
send your film to a site like Snapfish 
and let them post your photos online 
for you. If you have a shoebox of 
prints, scan them yourself, clean them 
up, and post everything to a photo site. 

Create a test image and run one 
photo through the whole scanning and 
editing process to determine all your 
settings. If you're hosting the album 
yourself, consider using FrontPage's 
Photo Gallery or a similar program. 

And lastly, when you do post those 
childhood photos, make sure 
someone is there with a camera to 
catch your friends' reactions. [S] 

by David Spark 



86 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



jg) Moving Data 



From Hard Copy 
To Hard Drive 

Archive Your Paperwork Into Your PC 




We've all heard the old saying, 
"The only two things in life 
that you can count on are 
death and taxes." It's safe to say that a 
third certainty can be added to the 
short list, and that's a build-up of pa- 
perwork. Records, receipts, reports, 
memos, contracts, and clippings from 
1,001 different sources; there's just 
no end to it, and the tide is only get- 
ting deeper. 

Wait a minute! Wasn't the PC rev- 
olution supposed to free our desks, 
file cabinets, and dresser drawers of 
their growing burdens? It was, and it 



still can. By storing digitized versions 
of all those pieces of paper on your 
hard drive, you can rid yourself of 
clutter and free up valuable space for 
more important things. 

Bridging The Gap 

The most important tool you'll 
need to accomplish this task is a 
scanner, which will be your conduit 
between paper and pixel. The most 
common type of scanner in use today 
is the flatbed, whose simplicity of de- 
sign and ease of use have caused the 



sheet-fed and more cumbersome 
handheld models to pretty much go 
the way of the dinosaur. If you've 
ever used a copy machine, a flatbed 
scanner will look reassuringly familiar. 

In fact, scanners operate in much 
the same way as copy machines do. 
You position the paper facedown on a 
glass plate, lower the lid, and activate. 
Beneath the hood a small motor and 
pulley system slowly advances the 
scanning assembly. While a fluores- 
cent tube shines up at your image, a 
row of sensors, called charge-coupled 
devices, scrutinizes the intensity of the 
light reflected back and immediately 
converts the precise image data into 
digital format. As it's collected the 
image data is steadily routed to your 
computer via its USB (Universal Serial 
Bus) connection. And in a matter of 
moments, you have a digital replica of 
your original. But unlike normal copy 
machines, scanners handle color pho- 
tographs as easily as they handle text 
and permit for greater flexibility even 
where text is concerned. 

Now, in case you haven't priced 
scanners lately, how much of an in- 
vestment are we talking about here? 
It's true, scanners do come in a wide 
range of prices that can top $1,000 for 
high-end models, so you can spend 
just about as much as you want. But 
there's no reason for you to spend 
more than you actually need to. Many 
high-end home-office scanners top 
out at about $500. 

Only a graphics or design profes- 
sional would probably have enough 
cause to spring for a top of the line, 
luxury-class scanner. Fortunately for 
the rest of us, over the past couple of 
years, scanner prices have been drop- 
ping like a stone, even as quality and 
features have steadily improved. For 
simple archival purposes, a budget 
model should serve you well and will 
undoubtedly become such a useful 
addition to your system that you'll 
soon wonder how you ever got along 
without it. 

Excellent models are available from 
such reliable names as Epson (www 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 87 



\il Moving Data 



.epson.com), Canon, 
(www.canon.com), HP 
(www.hp.com), Micro- 
tek (www.microtek 
.com), and others. A bit 
of homework and com- 
parison shopping should 
help you zero in on the 
scanner that's right for 
your needs and budget. 
Whatever your decision, 
be sure to spend a little 
time getting familiar 
with your new scanner 
and the software it came 
with before diving in. 
Nothing bogs down a 
task quicker than having 

to check a manual you 

haven't cracked yet. 

The Paper Chase 

Once you're ready to begin that 
mass migration onto your hard 
drive, the first thing you'll need to do 
is sort your documents into two 
major categories: what you can 
throw away after scanning and what 
you'll still need to hang onto. 

"Wait," you may be saying, "wasn't 
the idea to get rid of this stuff?" 

Sure, but all paper is not created 
equal. When it comes to legal docu- 
ments, especially those that carry re- 
quired signatures, a scanned version 
just isn't going to suffice should any- 
thing about it be called into question. 
You should retain the originals of 
such documents as contracts, wills, 
leases, tax receipts and returns, and 
anything else whose future absence 
could cause you headaches. Likewise, 
medical records can be so extensive 
that they are a keeper category unto 
themselves. Other documents, such as 
marriage and birth certificates, you 
may want to hang onto for senti- 
mental reasons. 

What scanning these items will let 
you do is convert them into a format 
that gives you quick and easy reference 
to the information itself while you 
stow the originals out of the way (say, 




When scanning smaller items, 
squeezing the most out of 
each scan will mean fewer 
files to keep track of later. 
Here we're scanning 10 
business cards at once. 



a corner of the attic or 
in a safe-deposit box or 
other offsite storage fa- 
cility) in the event you'll 
ever need them. 

Next, you'll want to 
start grouping similar 
items together. Have 
you been quietly stock- 
piling a collection of of- 
fice memos worthy of 
Dilbert? For that matter, 
have you been stock- 
piling a collection of 
"Dilbert" itself? Got a big 
stack of recipe clippings 
you've always meant to 
categorize? Photos of all 

the places in the world 

you'd like to visit some- 
day? You'll probably discover that the 
varieties of paper you have stashed are 
limited only by your own personal in- 
clinations toward being a pack rat. 

Once you have wrapped up your 
initial sorting, it's time to start scan- 
ning. In those instances where you 
have a lot of one kind of item, you'll 
probably want to 
squeeze as much out 
of each scan as you 
are able. So arrange 
them as tightly as 
possible on the glass 
plate without over- 
crowding. For ex- 
ample, a typical 8.5- 
x 11 -inch scanning 
area can accommo- 
date 10 business 
cards at once in two 
columns of five. 

Your scan soft- 
ware should let you 
specify a destination 
for your scanned 
image. Get comfort- 
able with this fea- 
ture with a couple of 
trial runs and then 
use it. A little extra foresight here can 
go a long way toward making your 
archival process run smoothly. 
Dumping everything into the same 



folder or file directory is a sure invita- 
tion to eventually overwhelm you with 
the same kind of glut that turned your 
file cabinet into such a nightmare. 

Instead, try breaking down your 
originals into smaller, manageable 
batches that you can then route to- 
ward specific programs, which will 
capture them and store them into one 
or more folders you've created. For 
instance, pictures might go directly to 
an image-processing program, such as 
Adobe's Photoshop or PhotoDeluxe, 
while a stack of illustrated magazine 
articles can be saved as JPEGs (Joint 
Photographic Experts Group) that 
will reside in their own folder in your 
main Documents folder. 

OCRIsA-OK 

Depending on the material you've 
decided to digitize, you may want to 
make sure that your scanner comes 
with OCR (optical character recogni- 
tion) software. This simply means 
that the scanning process looks at 
each individual letter in the document 



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max's VistaScan software provides a bright, user-friendly interface 
that helps simplify the scanning process. The window on the left lets 
you preview your image, while on the right you select the 
destination and the scanning mode (color photo, text/line art, 
printed matter, or Web image) that will optimize your results. 



rather than treating your original as a 
single image. 

Using OCR you can scan a docu- 
ment and have it converted into a text 



88 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



\f =i l Moving Data 



file that you can then import into your 
favorite word processing program. 
Some OCR software will even export 
the recognized text directly into your 
word processing program. Of course, 
you'll want to give the resulting file a 
scan with your own two eyes, but as 
long as you're starting with a good, 
clean original, you should be able to 
approach 100% accuracy. 

Be aware, though, that you'll be lim- 
ited to typeset or printouts only be- 
cause the intricacies of handwriting are 
too much for OCR to penetrate. Also, 
OCR generally works only with black- 
and-white images, so if your original is 
in color type, you'll want to either scan 
it in black and white only or use 
an image-editing program, such as 
PhotoDeluxe to convert it afterward. 

As you're archiving OCR can prove 
invaluable in a couple of big ways. 
First, your scanned documents aren't 
fixed as they were on paper. Now you 
can edit or continue to add to them. 
This is good news if you're scanning a 
batch of reports or if you've decided to 
dust off a folder of old stories you 
wrote years ago. Also, you'll be using 
space on your hard drive more effi- 
ciently. Although you can scan a docu- 
ment and save it as an image file, a 
Word file requires less storage space. 

Now The Bad News 

Just because the paper's out of the 
way doesn't mean you can slack off 
and revel in your now uncluttered 
workspace. A system of organization 
is just as vital now as it ever was. 

One solution is using a program 
such as NewSoft's Presto! PageManager 
6 ($79.95; www.newsoftinc.com). A 
scaled-down version might have been 
included with your scanner's software 
bundle. The more robust edition is 
available directly from NewSoft, but 
even the bundled version packs a lot of 
features and function. 

Chock-full of toolbars, Page- 
Manager works in cooperation with 
your scanning software and creates its 
own desktop environment within the 



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NewSoft's Presto! 
PageManager creates its 
own desktop environment 
for a complete solution to 
processing and organizing 
a full range of scanned 
material. Here we see the 
contents of the Inbox 
folder, which can be stored 
anywhere else in the folder 
hierarchy, opened and 
edited, or exported using 
the application bar across 
the bottom. 



Windows Desktop. Freshly-scanned 
images first arrive in an "Inbox," sim- 
ilar to that of most email programs. 
Found on the left side, the Inbox is at 
the top of a hierarchical system of 
folders and subfolders you can create 
to organize and manage your in- 
coming scans. A central window lets 
you view the contents of each folder 
in rows of thumbnail images, as well 
as any image in full, with just a click. 

Whenever you open an image, a 
graphics toolbar pops up along the 
right edge, giving you several ways to 
annotate or customize it. These aren't 
limited to merely cropping or resizing 
the image. You can also add text, em- 
phasize the important areas with a 
highlighter, add a Sticky Note (a virtual 
Post-it), and even hit it with the equiv- 
alent of a rubber stamp. These are very 
handy features, especially if you need 
some way to cross-reference your scans 
with their originals. For instance, 
should you ever need an original, you 
can ensure that you don't waste time 
digging through one wrong box after 
another by tagging the scan with a 
Sticky Note or a customized rubber 
stamp, giving the exact location. 

PageManager also sports an applica- 
tion bar across the bottom, letting you 
drag and drop an image to export it to 
your printer, email or fax software, or 
other program of your choice. 

Now, perhaps it isn't really feasible 
for you to store most or all of your 
scans in one centralized location. Say, if 
you have photos saved in Photoshop 



over here in one folder, a batch of 
charts saved as JPEGs over there, an as- 
sortment of bit-mapped business logos 
elsewhere, and dozens of radically di- 
verse Word documents parceled out in 
folders of their own. 

In this case you may find it more 
practical to use a program such as 
Microsoft Access to create a database 
that will keep track of what's what and 
where to find it. A full rundown of how 
to create such a database from scratch 
is beyond the scope of this article. 
Smart Computing subscribers can 
search our article archives at www 
.smartcomputing.com for more infor- 
mation on Microsoft Access. 

When The Scanning's Over 

As always, it's a good idea to make 
backing up your new data one of 
your first priorities, particularly in 
those cases where the paper originals 
have gone straight from the scanner 
to the trash can (or better yet, the re- 
cycling center). In general, electronic 
files should be accorded a higher de- 
gree of respect than their paper coun- 
terparts, if only because they're easier 
to lose for good. 

We'll never be entirely free of the 
need for paper and manila folders, 
but with a little effort, planning, 
and precaution, we can reduce the 
amount of space paper takes up in 
our lives, homes, and offices. [Ss] 

by Brian Hodge 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 89 



Ii> Moving Data 



Stay In Sync 

Keep Your PDA & Desktop Data Up-To-Date 




Today's PDAs (personal digital as- 
sistants) are compact, powerful, 
and affordable; they're no longer 
just curiosities flaunted by status- 
seeking executives. Featuring color dis- 
plays and processors that give them the 
horsepower to run sophisticated appli- 
cations, these handheld computers let 
you access important information 
without lugging around a notebook 
computer. But their real power is de- 
rived from their ability to synchronize 
key data with your desktop or note- 
book computer. As their power has in- 
creased, so has the ease with which you 
can synchronize your data. Both the 
Palm and the Pocket PC lines of hand- 
helds let you exchange data in a multi- 
tude of ways. Your options range from 
tried-and-true serial-cable connections 
and IR (infrared) ports to the cutting 



edge in wireless networking tech- 
nology: Bluetooth. Regardless of how 
you connect, keeping your data cur- 
rent is the key to getting the most from 
your PDA. 

Cable Options 

In today's wireless world, connect- 
ing your handheld to your desktop 
with a cable may seem old-fashioned. 
Yet most PDAs rely on this simple, but 
effective, method for data exchange 
and as a way to recharge your PDA's 
batteries. Whether you favor the Palm 
or the Pocket PC, setting up your cable 
connection is the key to smooth syn- 
chronicity. Most current PDAs include 
all the necessary hardware you'll re- 
quire to connect them to your desktop 
or notebook computer. 



Newer PDAs connect using USB 
(Universal Serial Bus), which may 
pose a problem for older OSes (oper- 
ating systems). Serial ports were the 
traditional alternative for those with 
older systems, but it's becoming diffi- 
cult if not impossible to find serial 
cables for newer PDAs. Check your 
PDA's system requirements to make 
sure it's compatible with your system. 

Pocket PC cabling. Pocket PCs uti- 
lize the ActiveSync program to manage 
all synchronization with your desktop 
computer. In addition to ActiveSync, 
Pocket PCs include a cradle that serves 
as a docking station for your handheld; 
this docking station manages both 
recharging your Pocket PC and data 
synchronization. 

Although your Pocket PC ships 
with ActiveSync preinstalled on the 
PDA, you'll need to install it on each 
computer you plan to use for synchro- 
nizing. Start by closing any applica- 
tions you have running on your 
computer and inserting the Active- 
Sync CD into your CD-ROM drive. If 
ActiveSync's installation program 
doesn't automatically start, you can 
manually launch the program. To do 
so, click Start and Run, then type 
d:/setup.exe in the Open field of the 
Run dialog box, and then click OK. If 
necessary, replace D: with the drive 
letter assigned to your CD-ROM 
drive. The installation wizard will walk 
you through configuring ActiveSync. 
(NOTE: Don't connect your cradle and 
handheld to your desktop computer 
until instructed to do so.) 

After installing ActiveSync, you'll 
need to connect your cradle to your 
desktop or notebook PC. Connect the 
cradle to a USB port and insert your 
Pocket PC into the cradle. Next you'll 
need to create what ActiveSync calls a 
partnership between your handheld 
and your desktop computer. There are 
two types of partnerships: Standard, 
where you synchronize data between 
the two devices, and Guest, where you 
simply transfer data from one device to 
the other. If you wish to synchronize 
with multiple computers, ActiveSync 



90 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



\f =i l Moving Data 



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allows as many as 
two partnerships 
(although you can 
expand this number 
using third-party 
software). 

Next, you'll need 
to choose which 
files and informa- 
tion to synchronize. 
Remember, most 
handhelds lack the 
storage capacity to 
mirror your desk- 
top. You'll want to 
choose to synchro- 
nize only the most 
important information. 

Now you're ready to begin synchro- 
nizing. As soon as the wizard is fin- 
ished, ActiveSync will launch; using 
the settings you configured, synchro- 
nize with your Pocket PC. Should you 
wish to change the ActiveSync settings, 
click the ActiveSync icon in Windows' 
System Tray and choose Options to 
alter your settings. 

Palm cabling. Palm OS products uti- 
lize cable connections in a similar 
fashion. Attach the cradle adapter to 
your desktop computer's USB port, 
and then insert your palm into the 
cradle. This will charge your Palm 
while you install the Palm Desktop 
software on your PC. 

The Palm OS equivalent to Active- 
Sync is the HotSync Manager, included 
in the Palm Desktop suite. To install, 
shut down any open programs and in- 
sert the Palm Desktop CD-ROM into 
the CD-ROM drive. If the installation 
does not begin automatically, click 
Start, Run, type d:/autorun.exe in the 
Open field, and then click OK. If neces- 
sary, replace D: with the drive letter as- 
signed to your CD-ROM drive. If you 
want to synchronize your Palm with 
Outlook instead of Palm Desktop, be 
sure to make that selection during the 
installation process. 

Once you've installed Palm Desktop, 
you'll need to perform your first syn- 
chronization. Simply press the Hot- 
Sync button on your cradle and then 



Details Options 



You can manage your Pocket PC's 
synchronization with your PC through 
ActiveSync's intuitive interface and the 
connection system of your choice. 



select the name you 
entered during the 
Desktop installa- 
tion in the Users di- 
alog box and wait 
for the synchroniza- 
tion to complete. 

Next, you'll want 
to configure the 
synchronization 
options. Click the 
HotSync Manager 
icon in your System 
Tray, choose Cus- 
tom from the pop- 

up list, and select 

your username in 
the drop-down menu. Select the appli- 
cation you wish to customize and select 
Change; the next time you synchronize, 
these settings will take effect. 

IR Connections 



If dealing with a bundle of cables 
isn't your idea of mobile computing, 
IR may provide an acceptable alterna- 
tive for keeping your data synchro- 
nized. Using technology similar to a 
TV remote control, IR ports on your 
handheld and PC can exchange data, 
albeit at a slow rate and only over 
short distances. In addition, ex- 
changing data over IR requires a 
direct line-of-sight between the 
two devices. If you're synchro- 
nizing large amounts of data, you 
may want to avoid using IR un- 
less absolutely necessary. 

Although IR has been around 
for several years, most desktop 
computers don't have IR ports. 
If you're not using a notebook 
with built-in IR ports, you'll 
need to purchase an add-on IR 
port from a company such as 
ACTiSYS (www.actisys.com). As 
long as you have an open serial 
or USB port, you can install an 
IR port for less than $100. 

Pocket PC and IR. If you've in- 
stalled your Pocket PC's ActiveSync 
software, syncing via IR is simple. On 
your PC, launch ActiveSync and click 



File and Connection Settings. Under 
Allow Serial Cable Or Infrared Con- 
nection To This COM Port, choose 
Infrared Port. 

To synchronize, tap Start on your 
handheld and then Programs, Active- 
Sync, Tools, and Connect Via IR. Be 
sure that your handheld is in line with 
the IR port on your desktop or note- 
book computer. Once the IR ports are 
in alignment, your devices will begin 
to sync up. 

Palm IR. Unfortunately, configuring 
Palm OS devices to sync via IR ports 
can be troublesome, especially if you're 
using Windows 2000 or Windows XP. 
If you're using Windows 98 or Win- 
dows Me, your journey to IR nirvana is 
a bit easier. First, you'll need to make 
sure that your IR port is configured for 
use. From Start, select Settings and 
then Control Panel. Next, double-click 
the IR device icon, click Options, and 
select Enable Infrared Communica- 
tions. You'll want to note the simulated 
COM port that Windows will associate 
with the IR port. 

Next, you'll need to configure Hot- 
Sync Manager to use the IR port for 
syncing. Configure HotSync Manager 
by right-clicking the HotSync icon in 
your System Tray and check Infrared. 




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Pocket PCs require you to create "partnerships" 
between your desktop computer and your handheld. 
Currently, you're limited to two partnerships. 



You'll also need to check Local Serial. 
Next, open Setup and select the Local 
tab. From the drop-down menu, 
choose the COM port that was indi- 
cated in Windows Control Panel. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 91 



\il Moving Data 



Now you need to align your PDA 
with the IR port. Tap the HotSync 
icon from your PDA's Application 
Launcher, highlight Local, and select 
IR To PC/Handheld from the drop- 
down menu. Tap the HotSync icon to 
begin the synchronization process, 
and HotSync Manager will take over. 

With Win2000 and WinXP, changes 
to how IR ports are handled can make 
infrared syncing more problematic, es- 
pecially if you use the Beam function- 
ality in your Palm. If you try to sync 
with Beam Receive on, your Palm OS 
PDA will complain about being unable 
to sync due to the port being in use. To 
disable this setting, choose Preferences 
from your handheld's Application 
Launcher; in the drop-down menu 
next to Beam Receive, choose Off. 
Follow the previously outlined steps to 
initiate your IR HotSync session. 

Bluetooth 

Compared to IR, Bluetooth is a 
better form of wireless synchroniza- 
tion. It's faster than infrared, has a 
range of 30feet, and doesn't require 
you to maintain a line-of-sight between 
your PDA and your computer. 

Bluetooth, however, is still a rela- 
tively new technology. As with IR, both 
your desktop and PDA must support 
Bluetooth. Most high-end PDAs are 
beginning to ship with Bluetooth, and 
a wide range of internal and external 
adapters are available for your PC. 

Set up the PC. Regardless of wheth- 
er you use a Pocket PC or Palm OS 
device, you will need to configure 
Bluetooth on your desktop PC. The 
exact process may vary depending on 
the hardware and software used, but 
we have a couple of tips for you. At 
some point, you'll need to select what 
types of services you want to make 
available. You'll need to select Serial 
Connection at this time and note the 
COM port used for the connection. 
Making your PC discoverable will 
allow your PDA to detect your PC and 
ease configuration. After you establish 
a connection with your PDA, you can 



turn off this feature to make your PC 
more secure. 

If you're using WinXP with Service 
Pack 2 installed, you'll have some addi- 
tional work to perform. First off, if you 
have Bluetooth already and haven't in- 
stalled SP2, remove your Bluetooth 
software before installing SP2. If you 
already have SP2 but haven't installed 
any Bluetooth software yet, don't. SP2 
includes its own software for handling 
Bluetooth. WinXP should be able to 
identify most Bluetooth adapters. 

If you're running SP2, you can con- 
figure Bluetooth from the Control 
Panel using the Bluetooth Devices ap- 
plet. Make sure you allow connections 
and have Discovery turned on. 

Pocket PC. Before we worry about 
the Pocket PC, we need to make some 
adjustments to your desktop system. 
Right-click the ActiveSync icon in the 
System Tray on the right end of the 
Taskbar, select Connection Settings, 
and make sure Allow Serial Cable Or 
Infrared Connection To This COM 
Port is selected. Select the COM port 
used by your Bluetooth software from 
the drop -down menu and click OK. 

Configuring Bluetooth on your 
Pocket PC varies depending on the 
brand model. HP, for instance, in- 
cludes special software for configuring 
wireless connections. If you're using an 
HP iPAQ, you'll need to tap the iPAQ 
Wireless icon in the lower-right corner 
and select Bluetooth Manager. Tap 
New and select ActiveSync Via Blue- 
tooth. You can skip the instructions by 
tapping Next, as we've already done 
this on the PC. Tap your desktop when 
it appears in the Bluetooth Connection 
Wizard. If you're asked for a Passkey, 
provide any random string of numbers 
(four is enough). Enter the same 
number on your desktop if it asks 
you for a Passkey. Opting to create a 
shortcut in the final screen will make 
connecting via Bluetooth much easier. 
Double-clicking the shortcut lets you 
quickly initiate an ActiveSync. To dis- 
connect, tap and hold the stylus on the 
icon until the pop-up menu appears 
and select Disconnect. 




Palm OS. Configuring a Palm OS 
device to synchronize via Bluetooth is 
a similar process. The first thing you 
should do is configure HotSync by 
clicking the HotSync icon in the 
Windows System Tray and select Local 
Serial. Click the icon again, select 
Setup, and click the Local tab. Select 
the proper COM port from the drop- 
down menu and click OK. 

Tap the Bluetooth icon on your 
Palm OS PDA (if you can't find the 



IR adapters such 
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functionality to 
most computers. 



icon, tap the Home icon until you see 
it). In the Bluetooth window, be sure 
to turn on Bluetooth and Discover- 
ability. Tab the Setup Device button, 
followed by the PC Setup button, and 
select Bluetooth HotSync. Tap Next, 
select your PC from the Select A PC 
list, and tap OK. Tap Next to proceed 
through the instructions and then, 
when you see the Launch HotSync 
button, tap it to perform a HotSync 
and ensure everything is correctly 
configured and running smoothly. 

No Excuses 

When PDAs first caught on, serial 
connections made synchronizing 
them with PCs a slow and frustrating 
experience. Today, though, USB lets 
us synchronize our data faster and 
easier than ever. If you don't like 
cords, Infrared provides a somewhat 
less restrictive method of synchro- 
nization while new wireless technolo- 
gies are freeing users up to an even 
greater degree. With technologies 
such as Bluetooth becoming more 
common, there's no excuse not to 
have the latest data on both your 
desktop and your PDA. HU 

by Chad Denton 



92 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



jg) Moving Data 



From Notebook 
To PC (& Back) 

Transfer Files Easily From One To The Other 




Having a notebook as a second 
PC has become a necessity for 
many. Although you may love 
the freedom that a notebook provides 
you, you probably find yourself facing 
the same dilemma that many notebook 
users deal with on a daily basis: how to 
easily transfer files from one computer 
to another. Luckily, there are a number 
of ways to do this, from the simple 
floppy diskette to the more sophisti- 
cated peer-to-peer network. 

Diskette/Disc File Transfer 

Without a doubt, the tried and true 
method of transferring information 



between two computers by using a 
floppy diskette is still one of the sim- 
plest. Floppy diskettes have been a file 
storage standard for years, and most 
computers, regardless of power or op- 
erating system, have a floppy diskette 
drive installed. Floppy diskettes are 
also cheap, and you can record to 
them as easily as inserting one in your 
computer and dragging files onto it. 

Floppy diskettes may have limited 
appeal for some users, though. In an 
age where music or database files can 
balloon up to many megabytes, the 
floppy's capacity (1.44MB) is consider- 
ably limiting. CD-Rs and CD-RWs 
(CD-recordables and CD-rewriteables) 



are quickly becoming the cheapest 
ways to move very large files between 
computers. CD-Rs and CD-RWs (as 
well as recordable DVD media) are also 
very handy for making backups with a 
long shelf life (reportedly 100+ years), 
although you'll need a CD-R/CD-RW 
drive or DVD recorder to write to 
them. Another option are USB flash 
drives the size of a keychain. Drives 
such as M-Systems' DiskOnKey (www 
.diskonkey.com) provide a lot of 
storage in a small device, for as little as 
25 cents per megabyte. 

If you are able to fit your files on a 
floppy, Briefcase is one piece of Win- 
dows software you may find indispens- 
able. This program permits users to 
coordinate files between two PCs. 

Briefcase (the default is called My 
Briefcase) is really just a folder you 
can rename. You can have as many 
Briefcases as you need at a time. If you 
don't see the My Briefcase icon on your 
Desktop, you may need to install it: 
Open the Start menu and select Set- 
tings, Control Panel, and then Add/ 
Remove Programs. Select the Windows 
Setup tab, highlight Accessories, and 
click the Details button. Check the 
Briefcase option and click OK in each 
dialog box to close it. Briefcase will be 
installed as the dialog boxes close. 

If the Briefcase box is already 
checked, the program is installed and 
you can create a new Briefcase by right- 
clicking the Desktop and choosing 
New and then Briefcase. To use Brief- 
case drag files into it and then copy the 
Briefcase to a floppy diskette. Pop the 
diskette into your notebook to access 
the files. You can also use the Briefcase 
on a network by copying files from 
your desktop to your notebook's 
Briefcase. To synchronize files open the 
Briefcase, highlight a file, and select an 
update button on the Briefcase toolbar 
or choose to update everything by se- 
lecting the Update All button. 

Email Files To Yourself 

If you have Internet access on both 
your desktop and notebook, you can 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 93 



\il Moving Data 



In order to share specific 

files or folders, set 

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email files to yourself 
by opening a new 
message, addressing it 
to yourself, and at- 
taching the file. Just 
make sure that you 
don't check your email until you're on 
the apropriate receiving computer. 
Alternately, you can use a different 
email address for each computer and 
just email from one to the other. 

Direct Cable Connection 

Using a diskette or email to move 
files is fine if you transfer very few (or 
very small) files, but for those with 
more frequent or larger file transfers, 
a direct connection between the two 
computers is really almost essential. 
The easiest way to do this is with 
Windows' Direct Cable Connection. 
DCC (Direct Cable Connection, a 
utility which ships with Windows 
95/98/Me/XP) lets you create a direct 
connection between two computers 
using their parallel or serial ports. 
When connected in this fashion, you 
can transfer files between computers 
or even use resources from one com- 
puter on another, although you'll see 
considerably slower performance 
than if you were to actually network 
the computers. (See the "Create A 
LAN" section in this article.) A note 
to Windows 2000/NT users: Although 
DCC can connect Win95/98/Me/XP 
to each other, 2000/NT users will 
need to use RAS (remote access 
server) software. There are special 
considerations when doing this, so be 
sure to check your Win2000/NT doc- 
umentation before attempting it. 

Because it supports the Infrared 
Data Association's standards and pro- 
tocols, WinXP users also can transfer 
information via infrared. To use 



J. 



this both the lap- 
top and desktop PCs 
must be equipped 
with infrared trans- 
ceivers. In effect, this 
is much like a DCC, 
but without the phys- 
ical cables. 

Create A LAN 



Think of a LAN 
(local-area network) 
as a direct cable connection on 
steroids. LANs are one of the most 
basic forms of networking. They 
come in many different flavors that 
fall into one of two categories: 
client/server LANs and peer-to-peer 
LANs. Client/server setups are good 
for larger networks with six or more 
nodes (computers). This type of net- 
work features one central computer, 
usually very powerful, on which files 
are stored that server nodes can ac- 
cess. This system makes it easier to 
update and back up data, and it's a 
good way to handle large files, such as 
database or graphics files. 

Peer-to-peer LANs are usually 
composed of five or fewer nodes 
arranged in a single "string." Each 
computer is equal on the network, 
making this a much easier LAN to set 
up and run. Because of that sim- 
plicity, we chose to concentrate on 
this type of LAN. 

Hardware. The first piece of hard- 
ware you'll need is a NIC (network in- 
terface card) for each computer on the 
network. NICs work with software to 
send and receive data on a network 
and come in many different "speeds" 
that determine how fast your network 
is. Before you start buying NICs for 
your LAN, decide what you'll use the 
LAN for. Higher speed NICs will let 
you play games and stream video 
across the network, but you'll pay 
more for each card. Note that many 
computers come with NICs, so you 
may already have all you need. 

You'll also want to purchase a hub, 
which acts as a central point that each 



computer plugs into, and cables to tie 
everything together. Alternately, you 
can opt to go the wireless route. 
Products from companies such as D- 
Link (www.dlink.com) and 3Com 
(www.3com.com) are easy to install 
and provide greater mobility with- 
out burying you in cords. Intel's 
AnyPoint Home Network (www 
.intel.com/anypoint) offers not only 
wireless solutions but also phoneline 
networking so you can turn your 
home's phone wiring into a conve- 
nient network. 

Configuration. Once you've got the 
network physically set up, you'll need 
to configure it on each computer, 
something you can do with the 
Network dialog box by opening the 
Start menu, selecting Settings and 
Control Panel, and then clicking the 
Network icon. You'll need to install 
and configure four different elements 
here: adapter, client, protocol, and ser- 
vice in order to get your network up 
and running. Users of WinXP can use 
the Network Setup Wizard to do a lot 
of this for them, including configuring 
adapters, setting up Internet connec- 
tion sharing, and more; click the 
Start Button and select Network and 
Internet Connections from the Control 
Panel and then click Set Up Or Change 
Your Home Or Small Office Network. 
The Network Setup Wizard can also be 
used on other computers running 
Win98/98SE/Me/XP to configure them 
to work with XP on the network. Even 
on non-XP machines, a fair amount of 
the network setup is done automati- 
cally, but double-check to make sure 
the following are installed and correctly 
set up: 

Adapter. The adapter is a software 
driver that permits your PC to talk to 
its NIC. If you don't see an adapter in 
the Network dialog box/Configura- 
tion tab, click the Add button, select 
Adapter from the Select Network 
Component Type window, and click 
the next Add button. If you have a disk 
that came with your NIC, insert it and 
click the Have Disk button. Otherwise, 
select the manufacturer and click OK. 



94 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



\f =i l Moving Data 



When the adapter is installed, select 
it and click the Properties button on 
the Network dialog box. Select the 
Driver Type tab and make sure the 
Enhanced mode (32-bit and 16-bit) 
NDIS Driver box is checked. Under 
the Bindings tab, only check those op- 
tions your computer will be using so 
that the computer isn't doing more 
work than it needs to. 

Client. This identifies the type of 
network the computer is on. For 
peer-to-peer networks, go with Client 
For Microsoft Networks. It should be 
installed with the adapter, but if you 
need to install it, click the Add button 
on the Network dialog box, select 
Client, click the next Add button, 
and then choose Client For Microsoft 
Networks under Microsoft. 

Protocol. The protocol lets com- 
puters on the network communi- 
cate. Several protocol choices are 
available. Chances are you already 
have one, TCP/IP (Transmission 
Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), 
installed for Internet use. A good 
choice for the peer-to-peer network 
is NetBEUI (Net BIOS Extended 
Users Interface), which is installed 
much like the adapter and client, ex- 
cept that you select Protocol from 
the Select Network Component 
Type window and then choose 
NetBEUI under Microsoft. 

Service. This is the only optional 
component here, and it should be 
installed if you want to share files 
from your computer. After selecting 
Service from the Select Network 
Component Type window, choose 
the File And Printer Sharing For 
Microsoft Networks option. 

Additional configuration options. A 
couple of additional tweaks are neces- 
sary to get your LAN up and running: 

First of all, you'll need to con- 
figure file and print sharing. In the 
Networks dialog box, click the File 
And Print Sharing button and make 
sure the checkboxes for file and 
printer sharing are both selected if 
you want to share them. This only 
makes it possible to share files. You'll 



still have to individually decide 
which folders and drives to share. 
WinXP automatically sets up a 
Shared Documents folder that others 
can access on the network. To share 
other resources on XP and other 
versions of Windows, the simplest 
thing to do this is to right-click the 
folder or other resource, then select 
Properties, and the Share/Sharing 
tab. Select Share or Sharing And 




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A wizard will help you set up DCC (Direct Cable 
Connection). Here it asks you to choose 
whether the computer will be the host or guest. 

Security from the pop-up menu. 
These will lead you to a dialog box 
that allows you to select from a va- 
riety of options: You can name the 
resource, add a comment, set per- 
missions or user levels, and more. 

Name the computer. Your PC will 
need a name on the network, and you 
can use the Identification tab of 
the Network dialog box to provide 
a name. Choose simple and self- 
explanatory names for both the com- 
puter and workgroup. 

Restart the computer for these 
changes to take effect, then double- 
click the Network Neighborhood icon 
on the Desktop. All the computers on 
the network should be listed. 



Docking Stations 

Docking stations are another pos- 
sible solution for transferring files 
from one computer to another. 
These devices permit notebook users 
to extend their computers by adding 
peripherals such as mice, keyboards, 
or monitors. Many also come 



equipped with a network card or 
provide you with a slot to install 
one. With the proper ports on the 
docking station, you can even run a 
cable between it and the desktop 
computer and run DCC. 

What do docking stations look 
like? Generally, docking stations pro- 
vide a place on the front where your 
notebook plugs in and a series of 
ports (serial, parallel, PS/2, joystick, 
video, USB [Universal Serial Bus]) 
on the back. (The type and number 
of ports will vary by model.) Docking 
stations are probably best suited for 
those in business who bring their 
notebooks on the road or to work 
and then home at night to sync with 
their desktops. Just plug the note- 
book into its docking station, and 
you can sync all relevant files. If your 
notebook and desktop do a lot of 
talking, a docking station can be 
worth its weight in gold. 

Computer manufacturers create 
docking stations for their own spe- 
cific lines of notebook computers. 
Before you purchase a docking sta- 
tion, make sure it will work with 
your notebook; be prepared to spend 
anywhere from $200 to $400 or 
more. If you're also in the market for 
a new notebook, you can usually get 
a deal by purchasing a notebook/ 
docking station combo. 

Decisions, Decisions 

We all have different needs when 
it comes to transferring files between 
notebooks and desktops. Take a 
minute to evaluate your current 
needs and consider your possible fu- 
ture needs, and don't invest in 
equipment you really don't need. If 
a floppy will do the job for the fore- 
seeable future, why go to the ex- 
pense and hassle of setting up a 
network? There is much to be said 
for keeping it simple. [Ml 

by Rich Cray 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 95 



Ii> Moving Data 



PC-To-PC Data 
Transfers 

There's More Than One Way 
To Move Data Between Computers 




The shortest route between Point 
A and Point B may be a straight 
line, but the shortest route to 
transfer data between Computer A and 
Computer B isn't always the most prac- 
tical. There are a number of methods 
to move data between computers. 
Which method you choose depends on 
how much of the original PC's working 
environment or data you want to 
transfer and how much time, money, 
and effort you're willing to invest. 

Although the easiest way of transfer- 
ring data involves connecting a cable 
between the computers and transfer- 
ring data using a specialized data-mir- 
roring program, there are other 
methods available: using the DCC 
(Direct Cable Connection) utility built 



in to Windows, setting up a simple net- 
work, transferring data using sneak- 
ernet, and sending files via the Internet. 

Mirror, Mirror 

The preferred method to "mirror," 
or re-create, your old PC on your new 
PC is to use a program designed for 
that task, such as Copy Commander 
from V-Com ($34.99; www.v-com 
.com) or Norton Ghost 9.0 from 
Symantec ($69.95; www. Symantec 
.com). Copy Commander is designed 
primarily for home PC users, while 
Norton Ghost is designed for corpo- 
rate office and home/home office use. 

The principal advantage of these 
programs is that they've been there 



and done that and can anticipate the 
problems that arise in making mirror 
images of your hard drive on a new 
PC. For example, what do you do 
when you're attempting to transfer an 
old version of Microsoft Office onto a 
computer with a newer version of 
Office already installed? These transfer 
utilities know enough to transfer your 
preferences (such as whether to dis- 
play the Office launch bar on the 
Desktop) without overwriting the 
newer version of Office. And they 
won't install your old PC's Windows 
98 OS (operating system) on top of 
your new PC's Windows XP OS. 

Mirroring utilities will make the 
move from old to new PC via several 
routes. Copy Commander, for ex- 
ample, can use a LAN (local-area net- 
work), Zip drives, or even CD-Rs 
(CD-recordables) to move data. 

Copy Commander is actually a suite 
of programs that includes a Transfer 
Wizard, which will walk you step-by- 
step through the process of mirroring 
your old PC's data and working envi- 
ronment on your new PC. You'll start 
by installing the mirroring software on 
both the old and new PCs. If you're 
using Copy Commander and a parallel 
cable linking the two computers, you'll 
turn on both PCs and start Transfer 
Wizard on the old PC. Then you'll start 
the same program on the new com- 
puter and follow instructions step -by- 
step through the transfer. 

The Direct Cable Connection. A 
DCC uses computers' parallel ports 
to share data. The problem with a 
standard DCC is that it is painfully 
slow: just 112KBps (kilobytes per 
second), which is woefully inade- 
quate for moving large files from 
system to system. 

A newer version of the parallel 
port, the IEEE 1284 fast parallel port, 
will generate about a five-fold boost 
in throughput but requires a special 
IEEE 1284 cable. 

An alternative to the parallel-to- 
parallel connection is a USB (Univer- 
sal Serial Bus)-to-USB connection, 
which is about 50% faster than fast 



96 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



\f =i l Moving Data 



parallel. USB ports have become vir- 
tually standard on computers, making 
this a very viable option. However, 
you'll need a special USB bridge cable 
and USB communication software to 
establish the connection. 

First things first. Before you even 
think about plugging in cables, you 
have to adjust your OS to use them. 
Every Windows computer beginning 
with Windows 95 has included the 
DCC software necessary to share data 
between parallel ports, but you'll need 
to enable it. 

Windows' DCC feature works 
like dialing up a computer over 
the Internet and even requires 
that you set up the Dial-Up 
Networking feature. (If your PC 
is set up to access the Internet via 
a modem and telephone, Dial-Up 
Networking is already installed.) 

To set up Dial-Up Networking 
in Win95/98/Me, click Start, 
Settings, and Control Panel. In the 
Control Panel window, open the 
Network icon and click Add. In the 
Select Network Component Type 
dialog box, select Protocol and 
click Add. The Select Network 
Protocol dialog box will have two 
frames: one for the Protocol manu- 
facturer and the other for the spe- 
cific Protocol. Choose Microsoft as 
the manufacturer and then high- 
light TCP/IP (Transmission Con- 
trol Protocol/Internet Protocol) 
Dial-Up Adapter as the Protocol 
and click Add. 

You may need to insert your 
Windows CD to complete the in- 
stallation of the dial-up net- 
working feature. (If you're going 
to share data between a PC run- 
ning Windows 95/98 PC and a 
PC running WinMe, you'll also 
want to make certain that the 
NetBEUI [Net BIOS Extended 
User Interface] Protocol is in- 
stalled on both machines.) 

You'll also have to enable file 
sharing on your host PC (the one 
that contains the files you want to 
share). Click Start, Settings, and 



Control Panel. Then, open the Net- 
work icon and click the File and Print 
Sharing button. Select I Want To Be 
Able To Give Others Access To My 
Files and I Want To Be Able To Let 
Others Print To My Printer(s). 

Now you must enable folder and re- 
source sharing on the host. Open My 
Computer (or Windows Explorer) and 
right-click the C: drive icon to open a 
pop-up menu. Click Properties to open 
a dialog box that shows the drive's 
properties. Click the Sharing tab, and 
then select the Shared As checkbox. 



Copyrights & Wrongs 



Clicking Shared As makes several 
functions available. The Share Name is 
the name that the guest computer will 
see when it connects using DCC. By 
default, it will show C, but you can give 
it a different name and add a comment. 

You can also determine whether the 
guest computer can read, but not 
modify, the folder's files (Read-Only) 
or have full access to the files (Full). 
You can also set passwords to give dif- 
ferent levels of access to different users. 

DCC and Win9x/Me. To complete 
a DCC using Win9x/Me, attach your 



Just because you can 
physically copy a pro- 
gram from one computer 
to another doesn't mean 
you're legally entitled to 
do so. Although there's al- 
most never a problem 
moving files you created 
yourself, you're wading 
into murky water when 
you copy programs from 
one computer to another. 

According to the BSA 
(Business Software 
Association), "If you copy, 
distribute or install the 
software in ways that the 
license prohibits, whether 
you are swapping disks 
with friends and co- 
workers or participating in 
widespread duplication, 
you are violating federal 
copyright law." 

Except in the rarest of 
cases, you are legally enti- 
tled to use the program on 
a single computer. Even if a 
program was preinstalled 
on your computer when 
you purchased the PC, you 
are legally entitled to use it 
on that computer. 

So what's the rule 
when you mirror a pro- 
gram on one hard drive to 



another or from one 
system to another? 

If you're simply moving 
data from one hard drive to 
another on the same PC, 
the issue is moot. The pro- 
gram still resides on the PC 
to which it is licensed; it's 
no different than if you 
backed up your PC to a Zip 
disk or network drive. 

It's a completely dif- 
ferent legal situation if you 
mirror all of the programs 
on one PC to another PC. 
Then, you've essentially 
duplicated the copy- 
righted software. Unless 
you uninstall the software 
from the original PC, 
you're technically violating 
copyright law. 

Are you likely to be 
caught? Yes and no. 
Although it's a violation of 
copyright law, if you mirror 
programs from your old 
computer onto your new 
computer and continue to 
use both machines at 
home, the feds are not 
likely to kick in your door 
at midnight. 

The BSA does pay atten- 
tion, particularly to busi- 
nesses and organizations 



(even nonprofit groups) 
that pirate software. 
Operating on information 
from computer companies, 
firms that service office 
equipment, and disgruntled 
ex-employees, 
the BSA and law enforce- 
ment agencies have cracked 
down on businesses for 
software piracy. 

Software piracy, inten- 
tional or accidental, may 
soon become a moot point. 
Beginning with Office 2000, 
Microsoft software buyers 
have had to "activate" their 
software in order to use it 
more than 50 times. (After 
the 50th time you run the 
program, it limits access to 
read-only status.) 

Activation is a fairly be- 
nign process; the software 
can activate itself via a 
quick online connection 
or the buyer can activate 
it by calling a toll-free 
number. But if Microsoft's 
efforts to protect itself 
with the activation proce- 
dure prove successful and 
profitable, you can be rea- 
sonably assured that the 
rest of the software in- 
dustry will follow. I 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 97 



\il Moving Data 



parallel cable to both PCs and start 
the data sharing session, beginning 
with the guest computer. Click Start, 
Programs, Accessories, and Commu- 
nications. From the Communications 
menu, open the DCC program. 

DCC uses a Windows Wizard to 
lead you step-by-step through the pro- 
cess of establishing the connection. Tell 
the Wizard that this is the guest PC, 
and then click the Next button. Identify 
the port on the guest computer that is 
connected to the cable or wireless de- 
vice and click Next. Then click Finish. 

Now repeat the process with the 
host computer. When you first estab- 
lish a connection, your may need to 
enter the name of the host computer. 

DCC and Windows XP. WinXP 
also provides a DCC feature. However, 
to use the Windows XP's DCC feature 
to transfer files, you'll need to create a 
user account that the guest computer 
will use to access files and folders on 
the host computer. Ironically, you'll 
use the host computer to create the 
guest computer's user account. 

On the host PC, click Start, open the 
Control Panel, open User Accounts, 
and Create A New Account. Name the 
account and click Next. Choose what 
type of account you want to create. 
Unless you want the guest PC to have 
complete control over the host ma- 
chine, choose Limited. Click the 
Create Account button and a New 
Account icon will appear in the User 
Accounts dialog box. 

Creating a user account is only half 
the equation: You'll also need to estab- 
lish which files and folders the host will 
share. If the WinXP PC's hard drive 
uses NTFS (NT file system), you can 
set rules to grant a guest full control 
over a folder and its contents or grant 
limited levels of access. WinXP calls 
these rules permissions. 

To modify the permissions for a 
folder, place your cursor over the 
folder icon, right-click to open a pop- 
up menu, and then select Properties. 
In the Properties dialog box, click the 
Security tab and select the type of per- 
mission you want to grant. To grant 



or restrict access to individual users 
(based on their accounts), click the 
Advanced button. 

To host a DCC using WinXP, click 
Start, Control Panel, Network And 
Internet Connections, and Network 
Connections. In the Network Tasks 
section, click Create A New Connec- 
tion to launch a wizard that will guide 
you through the connection process. 



/\ 




You can transfer data between the ports 
of two computers using a special cable, 
such as the Belkin Pro Series Direct cable 
connection shown here, available at most 
computing outlets for $10 or less. 

Start with the host PC. If the WinXP 
machine is the host, click through the 
Welcome dialog box to open the 
Network Connection Type dialog box, 
and then select Set Up An Advanced 
Connection and click Next. Choose 
Accept Incoming Connections and 
click Next. Decide which connection 
device (that is, which port) you'll use to 
communicate. Select the parallel port 
(usually called LPT1) and click Next. 

The next dialog box asks if you want 
to allow a VPN (virtual private net- 
work) connection. Select Do Not Allow 
Virtual Private Connections and click 
Next. Identify which user accounts can 
access this connection and click Next. 
In the Networking Software dialog box, 
choose the software that should be en- 
abled for incoming connections, and 
click Next. Click Finish, and the 
WinXP PC is ready to host a DCC. 

If you're running WinXP as the 
guest for a connection (that is, ac- 
cessing another PC's files and folders), 
click Start, Control Panel, Network 



And Internet Connections, and Net- 
work Connections. Click Create A New 
Connection to launch the New Con- 
nection Wizard. Click past the wel- 
come and select Set Up An Advanced 
Connection. Click Next. In the Advan- 
ced Connection Options dialog box, 
select Connect Directly To Another 
Computer and click Next. Choose 
Guest From the Home of Guest dialog 
box and click Next. Choose the con- 
nection device for the connection and 
again click Next. Select which users 
should be allowed a connection and 
click Next. Click the Finish button. 

Be aware that whenever a WinXP 
PC hosts a DCC, the guest will have 
to choose an account before gaining 
access. Now you're ready to use, copy, 
read, or modify files on the host PC. 

Networks 

As long as you have two PCs, you 
might want to consider networking 
them. A typical 10/100 Ethernet 
BaseT network can transfer data at 
rates of as fast as 100Mbps (megabits 
per second). Moreover, it will let both 
PCs share modems, scanners, DVD 
drives, and other resources. 

For a one-on-one network, all you 
need is a pair of NICs (network inter- 
face cards) or network interface 
adapters. You will have to open your 
PC case, insert the NIC in your PC's 
expansion bus, and install networking 
software. If you're uncomfortable pop- 
ping the case on your PC, consider an 
ethernet adapter that plugs into your 
computer's USB port. 

A standard networking cable for a 
direct one-to-one network won't work. 
You'll need a special crossover patch 
cable to complete the connection. You 
can pick up a 7-foot crossover patch 
cable from just about any computer su- 
perstore or office supply store for about 
$12. Wireless and wired NICs are avail- 
able for less than $80 each. 

Sneakernet. Sneakernets have been 
around since the second 5.25-inch 
floppy disk drive was installed in a 
PC. As long as two PCs shared floppy 



98 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



\f =i l Moving Data 



Synchronizing Files Using Briefcase 



The problem with down- 
loading files from an of- 
fice computer to a home 
office computer is that 
you're eventually going to 
want to use those files on 
the office computer again. 
It's a problem because the 
changes you make at home 
won't necessarily corre- 
spond to the changes 
you've made at the office. 
And if you want to incorpo- 
rate (or compare) both sets 
of changes, you will need to 
"synchronize" both versions 
into a single file again. 

Briefcase, a utility pro- 
gram built into Windows 
since Windows 95, keeps 
track of the relationships 
between multiple copies 
of a single file, whether the 
various versions exist on 
standalone desktop PCs, 
networked computers, or 
floppy diskettes. 

To synchronize files on 
networked PCs or PCs 



linked via DCC (direct 
cable connection), start by 
making certain that file 
folders on the host PC are 
set to allow file sharing. 
Establish the DCC, and 
then drag and drop the 
files you want to share 
into the My Briefcase icon 
of the guest computer. 

Now you can work with 
the file on the guest PC by 
opening My Briefcase and 
double-clicking the file. 
(The two PCs do not have 
to be connected while you 
work on the file.) 

When it's time to syn- 
chronize the files, re-estab- 
lish the DCC, and then 
open My Briefcase on the 
guest PC. To update the file, 
click it, click Briefcase, and 
then click Update Selection. 

You can also use 
Briefcase to synchronize 
files transferred using 
floppy diskettes. Start by 
copying the file to My 



Briefcase. Then insert a for- 
matted floppy into the 
diskette drive, open the My 
Computer icon to expose 
the A: drive icon, and drag 
and drop My Briefcase into 
the A: drive icon. 

Move the floppy to a 
new drive and open My 
Briefcase to edit the files it 
contains. When you're 
ready to synchronize the 
files, insert the floppy back 
in the original PC's hard 
drive, click Briefcase, then 
click Update All. 

There are some caveats 
to using Briefcase. When 
you edit a file that has 
been transferred into My 
Briefcase and moved to 
another computer, leave 
the file in My Briefcase. If 
you move the file to an- 
other location on the new 
system and then edit it, it 
will not update properly 
when you attempt to syn- 
chronize your data. I 



Delete files or reformat the disk 
to regain space. 

The drawbacks to sneakernet 
file sharing are obvious. If you 
lose or damage a diskette, you 
lose all of the changes made to the 
file and have to start over again. 
Moreover, creating duplicate ver- 
sions of a file frequently creates 
confusion over the most current 
version, especially when two or 
more people are making changes. 

Internet File Sharing 

If all you want to do is exchange 
a few files or the computers are 
miles apart, you can always use 
the Internet to send files from one 
PC to another. Simply attach the 
file or file folders to an email and 
send it to yourself. 

If you use an email account on 
a service such as Netscape, Ya- 
hoo!, or Hotmail, the message 
and attachment will reside on the 
service until you open the mes- 
sage. But keep in mind that the 
Internet is poorly suited for 
sending large amounts of data if 
you're accessing the Internet over 
a dial-up connection. 



diskette drives using the same ca- 
pacity diskette, information on one 
could be shared with another. 

Copying to a floppy works the 
same on any Windows PC. Place a 
formatted floppy in your floppy 
drive, click Start, and launch 
Windows Explorer. On the right side 
of Windows Explorer, find the file 
you want to copy. Drag and drop the 
file on top of the floppy drive icon, 
which appears on the left side of the 
Windows Explorer window. (You 
can also find the file, right-click it, 
choose Send To, and select 3V2 
Floppy A.) 

Dragging and dropping a file this 
way doesn't actually move the file. 
Instead, it creates a copy of the orig- 
inal file on the diskette. This is a fail- 
safe designed to prevent you from 



permanently losing data if you lose or 
misplace a floppy. 

On those rare occasions when you 
don't want to actually leave a copy of 
the file on a hard drive, hold down the 
right mouse button when you drag 
and drop the file. When you release 
the button, a pop-up menu will let you 
move the file instead of just copying it. 

Sneakernets can also use CD-RW 
and DVD-recordable drives. A floppy 
diskette can hold a maximum of 
1.44MB, a Zip diskette can hold up to 
250MB, a CD-R/RW (CD-record- 
able/rewriteable) can hold nearly 
700MB, and a DVD-R can store 4.7GB. 

Keep in mind that files already 
stored there limit the actual capacity 
of a disk. If you've already saved 
100MB of data to a 250MB Zip disk, 
the available capacity is only 150MB. 



Get There 

In the beginning, personal com- 
puters were intensely personal. The in- 
formation contained on a PC resided 
only on the PC, which wasn't designed 
to share information. Even programs 
had to be loaded from floppy diskette 
when you wanted to use them. 

However, exchanging data is no 
longer a challenge for personal com- 
puting, but instead its very reason for 
existence. So today, the question is not 
whether you can take data home with 
you: It's simply a matter of deciding 
how you want to get it there, pjj] 

BYj.W. HUTTIC 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 99 



Ii> Moving Data 



From Slave 
To Master 

A New Hard Drive 
Can Improve Performance 




Adding an additional hard drive 
can extend the life of your PC 
by years, giving you gigabytes 
of space for saving documents, email 
messages, and pictures of the kids. 
But simply using your new hard drive 
as a data annex can be a waste of its 
full potential. 

Today's hard drives not only deliver 
more bytes per buck than older 
drives, but they also save and retrieve 
data much faster. A 7,200rpm (revo- 
lutions per minute) hard drive runs 
25% faster than the 5,400rpm drives 
common on PCs just a few years ago, 



fast enough to store and play back 
digital video in real time. 

So why waste that speed just to load 
documents, data, and images? By using 
your new drive to boot your com- 
puter, you can open programs faster 
and boot your computer in less time. 
Moreover, you can gain an extra mea- 
sure of reliability by transferring the 
data from the existing drive to a new 
drive. And you can still use your old 
hard drive as a backup. 

Installing a new hard drive is a rela- 
tively simple process and one of the 
most common upgrades that PC 



owners make. Switching drives so that 
the new drive becomes the boot drive 
is a bit more complex, but it's still well 
within the skill level of the typical PC 
user. By being patient and paying at- 
tention to details, you can look for- 
ward to the satisfaction of a successful 
hard drive transplant. 

ANo-FATDiet? 

In the course of installing your new 
hard drive, make certain that your PC 
can use, or "address," all the storage 
space. Depending on the age of your 
PC, it may be unable to address more 
than 2GB of data storage. 

There are a couple of ways to work 
around the 2GB limit. The easiest fix is 
to upgrade to a new version of Win- 
dows and reformat your hard drive 
from the FAT (file allocation table) 16- 
bit file management system, which can 
only read up to 2GB of storage, to 
FAT32 or NTFS (NT file system). 

If your computer runs the Windows 
NT, 2000, or XP OSes (operating sys- 
tems), you have the option of using ei- 
ther FAT32 or NTFS on your new 
hard drive. Except in rare circum- 
stances, you'll want to use the newer 
NTFS. NTFS offers numerous advan- 
tages over the older FAT file systems. 
To start with, you'll find an NTFS 
hard drive can store more data in less 
space even without compression. 

You can also change the way you 
partition an NTFS hard drive simply by 
opening the Control Panel and using 
the Disk Management utility to change 
a few settings. Compare that to reparti- 
tioning a FAT drive, a process that re- 
quires backing up data, repartitioning 
the drive, reformatting the hard drive, 
and restoring data. It's not an under- 
taking for the timid-hearted. 

Finally, NTFS lets you grant users 
different levels of access to files and 
folders. Although you might give your- 
self complete access to every file and 
folder on the hard drive, you might 
limit another user to read-only access 
of sensitive files or prohibit another 
user from any access to an entire 



100 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



\f =i l Moving Data 



folder. This is a partic- 
ularly useful tool in a 
network environment. 
Note that even if you 
share your NTFS hard 
drive over a network, 
PCs using FAT hard 
drives can still down- 
load and use NTFS 
files and folders. 

If you're not willing 
to change your OS or 
file system, you can 
work around the 2GB 
limit by partitioning 
your new hard drive 
into several virtual 
drives with no more than 2GB in each. 
For example, you could format a 10GB 
hard drive into five virtual drives con- 
taining 2GB of storage space each. 
Although there would only be one ac- 
tual hard drive, your OS would act as if 
there were actually five 2GB drives. For 
information on how to partition a 
drive, read your manual or go online 
to www.smartcomputing.com and 
search for articles on partitioning. 

From Slave To Master 

Your new hard drive will have 
come with instructions that give you 
the option of installing it as the 
master or slave drive. The master 
drive is the drive where your com- 
puter will look first for the boot files it 
needs to load the OS and perform 
other start-up tasks. The slave drive 
plays no role in the start-up process 
and is simply a data annex where you 
can store programs and information. 

Although it's much simpler to install 
the new drive as the slave, you'll want 
to consider installing it as the master if 
it has a faster seek time or operates at a 
higher speed (measured in revolutions 
per minute) or if you're worried that 
your master drive is getting old and 
might fail. Even if you've installed the 
new drive as the slave, you can open 
the computer case and reinstall it as the 
master. For more information on how 
to switch master and slave drives, read 



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You can double-check the successful installation of your new drive by opening the My 
Computer folder, right-clicking the target drive, and clicking Properties. 



your hard drive and PC manuals or go 
online to www.smartcomputing.com 
and search for articles on hard drives. 

Copy The Data 

Once you have the new drive in- 
stalled and configured as the master 
drive, you're ready to copy the data 
from your existing master drive to the 
new drive. WinXP users can use the 
File Settings And Transfer Wizard to 
copy data. If you don't have WinXP 
(or even if you do), you can use a 
drive mirroring utility, such as 
Norton Ghost 9.0 ($69.95; www 
.symantec.com). 

WinXP File And Settings Transfer 
Wizard. The same File And Settings 
Transfer Wizard that Windows XP 
uses to import files and preferences 
from another computer can also be 
used to import programs, files, and 
preferences from one hard drive to 
another in the same computer. 

Normally, the File And Settings 
Transfer Wizard assumes that you'll 
move the data over a DCC (direct 
cable connection), a network, remov- 
able media (such as Zip disks), or 
even a portable hard drive. You can, 
of course, move the data to one of 
these media and then move it back to 
your computer's new drive, but you'll 
probably find it less of a hassle to 
create a volume on one of your hard 
drives. Volumes (which are similar to 



partitions) are simply 
areas of a hard drive 
that act as if they were 
independent drives. 

This volume has to be 
large enough to hold all 
of the programs, files, 
and settings that you'll 
move between drives. If 
you are moving 40MB 
of data from one drive 
to another, you will 
need to create a 40MB 
volume. You can create 
the volume on either 
the old or new drive, 

space permitting. 

To create a volume in WinXP, make 
certain that you're logged on to the PC 
as the administrator. Click Start, 
Control Panel, Performance And 
Maintenance, Administrative Tools, 
Computer Management to open the 
Computer Management window, 
which is divided into left- and right- 
hand frames. (If you've opted for the 
Classic view in WinXP, you will need 
to click Start and then Settings in order 
to get to the Control Panel.) In the left- 
hand frame, find the Storage icon and 
click the plus sign (+) next to it to open 
three more options: Removable 
Storage, Disk Defragmenter, and Disk 
Management. Select the Disk Manage- 
ment option and the right-hand frame 
will display a list of hard drives. 

Before you can create a volume, 
you'll need to be certain that your 
hard drive is set up as a dynamic disk. 
If it's not, you can convert it by right- 
clicking the disk number and clicking 
Convert To Dynamic Disk from the 
pop-up menu. Follow the instructions 
to make the conversion. 

Now you should be ready to create 
the new volume. Place your pointer 
on the icon representing the drive 
where you want to create the new 
volume and right-click to open a pop- 
up menu, and then click New Volume 
to open the New Volume Wizard. 

Click past the Welcome dialog box. 
When the Wizard asks you to Select 
Volume Type, choose Simple and click 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 101 



\il Moving Data 



Next. The next page in the Wizard 
shows you the amount of free space 
available on the selected hard drive. 
You can convert all of the free space on 
the drive into a new volume or use the 
box labeled Select The Amount Of 
Space In MB to create a smaller 
volume. Click Next. 

This opens the Assign Drive Letter 
Or Path dialog box, where you'll use 
the drop-down menu to give the new 
volume a drive letter. Click Next. 
Choose NTFS as the type of file system 
that you want to use for the volume 
and click Next. Click Finish and 
WinXP will create the new volume. 
When you look in Disk Management, 
you'll see the new volume listed as if it 
were a new hard drive. 

Once the volume is created, you're 
ready to transfer the data. From the 
Start menu, point to All Programs, 
Accessories, System Tools, and then 
click Files And Settings Transfer 
Wizard. Click past the Welcome dialog 
box and the wizard will ask whether 
you are using the new PC or the old 
PC. Even though you're only moving 
data from one hard drive to another on 
the same PC, the wizard thinks you're 
moving data between two computers, 
so select Old Computer and click Next. 

In the Select A Transfer Method di- 
alog box, choose Other to enable the 
Browse button. Locate the volume that 
you created earlier, select it, and click 
Next. In the What Do You Want To 
Transfer dialog box, you can choose 
between Settings Only, Files Only, and 
Both Files And Settings. You can also 
click the Let Me Select A Custom List 
Of Files And Settings When I Click 
Next (For Advanced Users) option to 
choose only selected files and settings. 
Keep in mind that the less data you 
move, the less space you need in your 
partition. Click Next. 

The next page in the wizard reveals 
how much data you'll be moving. If 
you've planned well and the volume is 
big enough, click OK and the wizard 
will move the data to the volume. 

Now you're ready to import the data 
to the new hard drive. Once again, 



open the File Settings And Transfer 
Wizard. When the wizard asks Which 
Computer Is This?, choose New 
Computer. Click past the Welcome di- 
alog box. When the wizard asks if you 
have a Windows XP CD, choose I 
Don't Need The Wizard Disk. I Have 
Already Collected My Files And 
Settings From My Old Computer. 
Click Next. 



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Use the Files And Settings Transfer Wizard to 
easily move your data from your PC's old hard 
drive to a new one. 

In the Where Are The Files And 
Settings dialog box, choose Other, 
specify the location of the temporary 
volume, and click Next. Click Finish 
and the wizard will install the files 
and settings. When it's done, the 
wizard will ask if you want to log off 
so the changes can take effect. 

Drive mirroring. If you're not run- 
ning WinXP, you can copy all of the 
files from your old hard drive to your 
new hard drive using a procedure 
called drive mirroring. In the process 
of making copies of programs, drive 
mirroring also copies the PC's Reg- 
istry, a record of all of your files and 
settings, from your Desktop theme to 
your default screen saver. 

If, for example, you copy Microsoft 
Word from one drive to another as 
part of the mirroring process, the 
mirrored version will retain all of the 
spelling exceptions and defaults, such 
as the fonts and margins in your de- 
fault document template, in the orig- 
inal version of Word. 

Mirroring also copies the adjust- 
ments made to the Windows OS on 
the original drive. That includes 



everything from the way Windows 
displays data in file folders to the 
sound your computer makes when 
you launch a program. 

Be careful with mirroring. If you 
mirror a drive to a drive that already 
contains some data, you run the risk of 
overwriting files on the target drive. If 
the "old" drive from which the data is 
being copied contains an old version 
of, say, Microsoft Word (WinWord 
.exe), mirroring could inadvertently 
overwrite a more recent version of 
Word (also named Winword.exe) on 
the "new" drive. 

Specialized mirroring programs, 
such as Ghost or PC Upgrade 
Commander, are designed to recog- 
nize such problems. They are de- 
signed to recognize newer versions of 
executable files (better known as pro- 
grams) and not overwrite them. 

Be aware that Microsoft Office XP, 
the newest version of the Microsoft 
Office suite of programs, uses special 
software to prevent it from being il- 
legally loaded onto more than one 
computer. When you transfer Office 
XP to another hard drive as part of 
the mirroring process, Office XP may 
respond as if it had been loaded onto 
a different computer and require you 
to reactivate it. If this occurs, contact 
Microsoft and obtain another confir- 
mation ID. 

Switch Roles 

If everything has been done right, 
your PC will boot as normal. It may 
boot up more quickly if you're using a 
faster master drive, but you probably 
won't notice any other difference. 

To reassure yourself, though, open 
the My Computer folder, right-click 
the C: drive icon, and click Properties. 
You will see that the new C: drive fits 
the dimensions of your new hard 
drive. Now repeat the process for the 
D: drive icon; its properties should 
match your old C: drive. \M\ 

BYj.W. HUTTIC 



102 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



jg) Moving Data 



All Aboard 
The Data Shuttle 

Moving Files Between PCs & Macs 




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Whether you're a Mac devotee or 
a PC fan, you may at some 
point need to make important 
files created on one platform work with 
the other. The good news is that it often 
makes little difference which OS (oper- 
ating system) powers your desktop or 
laptop computer from a compatibility 
standpoint, as most popular applications 
are available for both Mac and Windows. 
You can open and modify the Macin- 
tosh Excel spreadsheet you work on at 
home on your office PC running Micro- 
soft Excel for Windows. The same is true 
for Photoshop-enhanced digital photos, 
brochures published in Adobe InDesign, 



reports created with Microsoft Word, 
electronic slideshows produced with 
Microsoft PowerPoint, and iTunes audio 
tracks stored in your digital music li- 
brary. The list goes on; as a result, it's 
easy to begin a project using an applica- 
tion on one platform and revise the work 
using the same application on another. 

Moreover, most applications can save 
data in several formats. So if you know 
the receiving computer lacks a copy of an 
application you used to create a docu- 
ment, just save the document in a format 
that system can read. For example, for 
Mac documents destined for viewing 
(not editing) on a PC, there's always the 



free Save As PDF (Portable Document 
Format) option built into the OS X Print 
dialog box. Instead of printing to paper, 
it "prints" an electronic copy in a plat- 
form-independent PDF file, retaining all 
those fancy fonts, graphics, tables, and 
other embedded layout elements. 

Similarly, Macs and PCs typically have 
programs that can open and read files 
saved in the ASCII (American Standard 
Code for Information Interchange), RTF 
(Rich Text Format), and HTML (Hyper- 
text Markup Language) file formats. In 
addition, there are applications for each 
that can open GIF (Graphics Interchange 
Format) or JPEG (Joint Photographic 
Experts Group) image files. 

The problem with cross-platform 
transfers is generally the switch from one 
file system to another's. Macs store data 
using the HFS+ (Hierarchical File System 
Plus) file system, also called Mac OS Ex- 
tended. Windows 95/98/Me systems save 
files on hard drives using the FAT (File 
Allocation Table) system, whereas Win- 
dows NT/2000/XP hard drives use NTFS 
(NT File System). Windows-based PCs 
cannot read Mac-formatted floppy disk- 
ettes, CDs, Zip disks, or other removable 
media. Pop a Mac-formatted storage 
medium into a PC drive and you'll get an 
error message saying "The disk in drive X 
is not formatted. Do you want to format 
it now?" If you do, you'll lose your data! 

There are several ways to transfer data 
from one computer platform to another. 
Many users simply send files as email at- 
tachments. But when email is not an op- 
tion, there are other options. 

Sneakernet 

It's easy to transfer PC work to a Mac 
using the sneakernet technique, which 
basically consists of walking (in sneakers) 
from one computer to another carrying 
the data. Because Macs can read FAT- 
formatted media (including hard drives), 
simply pop a PC-formatted floppy, Zip 
disk, or CD into an identical-capacity 
drive on a Mac, or connect a FAT-for- 
matted hard drive by FireWire or USB 
(Universal Serial Bus). The PC medium 
will appear as an icon on the Macintosh 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 103 



\il Moving Data 



Desktop. Double-click the appropriate 
drive's icon on the Mac Desktop to open 
it. To copy the PC-formatted file to the 
Mac, click the desired data file to select it. 
Press and hold the OPTION key while 
dragging the icon of the selected file to 
the Macintosh Desktop. To copy items 
from a Macintosh to a PC-formatted 
medium, drag and drop the icon of the 
Mac-formatted item you 
wish to copy to the PC- 
formatted device. 

Mac OS X has a built-in 
application called Disk 
Utility that will create a 
FAT-formatted medium if 
you want to transfer Mac 
files to a PC by saving them 
to PC-formatted media. To 
run the utility, double-click 
the Applications folder, 
double-click the Utilities 
folder, and then double- 
click Disk Utility. A list of 
mounted disks appears in 
the window at the left. Select 
the disk you want to format. 
Click the Erase button in the 
bar at the top of the Disk 
Utility window. Select MS-DOS File 
System from the Volume Format drop- 
down menu. Name the disk and then 
click Erase to create a FAT-formatted 
disk for PC-compatible documents. You 
can also easily transfer files using a USB 
flash drive or a small, portable hard drive. 

PC users also have options when 
transferring files between Macs and PC. 
They can equip their systems with the 
ability to mount, read, or format HFS+ 
(Mac-compatible) media. Both Media- 
Four MacDrive 6 for Windows ($49.95: 
www.mediafour.com) and DataViz Con- 
versions Plus Suite for Windows ($69.99; 
www.dataviz.com) accomplish this task. 
MacDrive 6 lets PC users open, edit, and 
save files on Mac-formatted media, auto- 
matically adding the three-letter file ex- 
tensions for files that it recognizes, such 
as .DOC (Microsoft Word), .XLS (Excel), 
and .PPT (PowerPoint). Users must have 
software to read the transferred files, as 
MacDrive does not include file transla- 
tors. MacDrive 6 also formats Mac disks. 



For it to burn Mac CDs and DVDs, how- 
ever, the PC must be running Win2000/ 
XP or Windows Server 2003. 

Roxio's Toast 6 Titanium ($99.95; 
www.roxio.com) lets users create Custom 
Hybrid CDs combining both ISO 9660 (a 
format that both Windows and Mac OS 
systems can read) and Macintosh Stan- 
dard (HFS) or Mac OS Extended (HFS+) 



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To view a Mac document on a PC, use the free Save As PDF 
(Portable Document Format) option built into the OS X Print 
dialog box to create a PDF file and then share this PDF. 



formats on a single CD. A Windows PC 
can read a Custom Hybrid CD. When 
formatted in this way, Mac users see only 
Mac data, while PC users see only ISO 
data. To transfer documents, images, 
video clips, or audio files from a Mac to a 
PC, launch Toast, insert a recordable CD, 
drag and drop the files you want to copy 
onto this CD, burn the disc, then sneak- 
ernet the CD to a Windows PC. 

Emulation 

Emulation software, such as Micro- 
soft's Virtual PC 2004 (www.microsoft 
.com), runs Windows and Windows- 
compatible apps in a virtual-machine en- 
vironment on an OS X Macintosh by 
emulating the standard Intel PC chipset. 
It uses conventional Mac graphical inter- 
faces, menus, and commands. You can 
get versions for WinXP Home ($219), XP 
Pro ($249), or Windows 2000 ($249). 
(Each comes with its OS.) If you already 
own a compatible Windows OS, simply 



purchase Virtual PC for Mac without 
Windows ($129). Once installed on a 
Mac, you can save the files you create 
under Windows to a PC-formatted re- 
movable medium. 

Connect Macintosh & PC Hardware 

To transfer data directly from a Mac to 
a PC (or vice versa) in a peer-to-peer en- 
vironment where all computers have the 
same capabilities and each can initiate a 
communications session, both com- 
puters must (of course) be equipped with 
network adapters. If the necessary hard- 
ware is in place, you can connect an older 
Mac to a PC directly with a crossover 
rather than a patch (or straight-through) 
Ethernet cable. The difference between 
crossover and patch cables is that wires 
are reversed in a crossover cable. To con- 
nect three or more computers to the 
same Ethernet network, purchase a mul- 
tiport Ethernet switch (a switch makes 
for speedier network performance than a 
hub), then connect each system to the 
switch using an Ethernet patch cable. 

All the computers must have TCP/IP 
(Transmission Control Protocol/Internet 
Protocol) enabled and you should know 
each one's IP address. To determine a 
Mac's IP address under OS 9, select 
Control Panels from the Apple drop- 
down menu and click TCP/IP. The ad- 
dress will appear in the TCP/IP window. 
Under OS X, click Network (System Pref- 
erences) and then Built-in Ethernet from 
the Show drop-down menu. The IP ad- 
dress will appear in the Built-in Ethernet 
network window. To determine the IP 
address of a PC running WinXP Pro, 
double-click My Network Places to dis- 
play the Network Connections dialog, 
double-click Local Area Connection, and 
click the Support tab. 

If you do not have a router that auto- 
matically hands out IP addresses to net- 
work-connected devices at startup, you 
can manually assign an IP address. To as- 
sign an IP address to a WinXP PC, right- 
click My Network Places, click Properties 
in the pop-up menu, right-click the Local 
Area Connection adapter, and click Prop- 
erties. Select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) 



104 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



\f =i l Moving Data 



and again click Properties. Click the Use 
The Following IP Address button. Enter 
an IP address, such as 192.168.0.XXX, 
where XXX is a number ranging from two 
to 250. Each device on your network 
should have a unique IP address. For the 
Subnet mask number, use 255.255.255.0 
and click OK. Subnet (short for subnet- 
work) refers to all machines on the same 
LAN. Your PC is now configured. 

To assign an IP address in OS X, click 
the Apple Menu, System Preferences, and 
the Network icon. Select Built-in Ether- 
net from the Show drop-down menu and 
Manually from the Configure drop-down 
menu. Enter an IP address that matches 
the IP address above, except for the XXX. 
Choose a number from 2 to 250, but do 
not assign the same address as the PC just 
configured. Enter a Subnet Mask of 
255.255.255.0. Click the AppleTalk tab 
and place a check mark next to Make 
AppleTalk Active, then click Apply Now 
and close the dialog box. 

To share or transfer files between a 
Mac running Panther (OS X 10.3) and a 
PC running WinXP Pro, both computers 
should also belong to the same work- 
group. To see the PC's workgroup name, 
click Start, Settings, Control Panel, and 
double-click System. Click the Computer 
Name tab and note the workgroup name. 
To assign a Mac to this workgroup, navi- 
gate to the Applications folder, double- 
click Utilities, and then double-click 
Directory Access. Make sure SMB (Server 
Message Block) is selected. (You may 
have to double-click the padlock and 
enter the administrator's password appli- 
cation to make changes.) SMB is the ser- 
vice your Mac must run for Windows 
sharing. Click SMB to select it, click con- 
figure, and enter the name of the PC 
Workgroup. Click OK. Enter your Mac 
administrator's password, click OK, and 
close Directory Access. Click System Pref- 
erences on the Dock, open Sharing, and 
select the Windows Sharing checkbox. 

On the WinXP Pro PC, create a shared 
folder (right-click the icon of the folder 
you want to share, choose Properties, 
click the Sharing tab, and follow the in- 
structions to share the designated folder). 
You can password protect it if you like. 



Disable Windows Firewall in the Mac's 
Windows Firewall Control Panel to con- 
nect to the shared folder; restart the PC. 

Double-click My Network Places and 
then double-click Entire Network. To 
display Entire Network in My Network 
Places under WinXP, right-click My 
Computer, click Properties, click the 
Advanced tab, and click Settings in the 
Performance section. In the Custom di- 
alog box, deselect Use Common Tasks In 
Folders. Click Apply, OK, and OK again. 

Double-click Entire Network, double- 
click Microsoft Windows Network, and 
double-click Workgroup. The name of 
the connected Mac appears in the Work- 
group window. Double-click to open it 
and work with documents. 

If the Mac's built-in SMB client proves 
problematic, try using a third-party 
product, such as Computer Associates' 
PC MACLAN 9.x ($189; ca.com), which 
allows bidirectional file sharing between 
OS9.X or OS X Macs and PCs over TCP/ 
IP and AppleTalk across an Ethernet net- 
work. Another option is Thursby Soft- 
ware's DAVE v.5.1 ($119; www.thursby 
.com), which provides bidirectional file 



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sharing with no settings to configure 
(other than disabling Windows' firewall). 

Data Translation 

Transferring files across platforms 
copies stored data from one location to 



another. It does not convert file formats. 
When transferring files from PC to Mac, 
you must also have a Mac-compatible 
copy of the application used to create the 
original PC file. If you lack the software, 
you may still be able to view the file 
thanks to applications called viewers. For 
example, Microsoft offers free PC-based 
viewers for Office, Outlook, and other file 
types at office.microsoft.com/en-us 
/assistance/HAO 1 04498 1 1 033 .aspx) . 

File Translators 

If double-clicking a PC file on a Mac 
does not open the file, try MacLinkPlus 
Deluxe 15 ($79.99; www.dataviz.com). 
This software's special translators convert 
PC files into formats readable by Mac 
apps or vice versa. When converting Mac 
files to PC formats, MacLinkPlus auto- 
matically appends the appropriate three- 
letter file extension. Documents retain 
some formatting and page setup charac- 
teristics but will need some reformatting. 

What MacLinkPlus Deluxe does for a 
Macintosh, DataViz's Conversions Plus 
Suite for Windows does for a PC. In both 
cases, some document for- 
matting will be lost. But 
tweaking typeface, type 
size, or table layouts is a 
small price to pay for the 
convenience of accessing 
data files that would other- 
wise be unreadable. 



Share & Share Alike 

Knowing how to move 
data between Macs and PCs 
makes sense in a world 
where popular software 
runs on both platforms. 
Transferring data from one 
platform to another doesn't 
have to be difficult thanks to a 
wealth of transfer and translation options 
and the fact that PC read/write capabili- 
ties are built into the Mac OS. Choose the 
option that's best for you and open a 
world of data-sharing possibilities. \M\ 

by Carol S. Holzberc, Ph.D. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 105 



Recovering data 



How Do 

I Lose Thee? 

Let Me Count 

The Ways .... 

Viruses, Crackers, Malfunctions 
& Human Error Spell Doom For Your Data 



There's a computer- 
related axiom sim- 
ilar to Murphy's Law 
that says the chances 
of losing a data file 
increase in direct proportion 
to the file's importance. Of 
course, this rule doesn't dwell 
much on the specifics of losing 
such files. That's because there 
are nearly as many factors that 
can contribute to data loss as 
there are types of data to lose. 

The condensed list of causes 
includes items you've probably 
already figured out, as well as a 
couple you may have over- 
looked. Power failures, shutting 
down without saving your 
work, and saving a bad version of a file 
over a good one (or other user errors) 
are especially notorious. Equipment 
failure is another biggie, including 
power supply, memory, and hard drive 
malfunctions. Failure to take the proper 
antistatic precautions when working in- 
side your PC is another culprit, as are 
fires and other disasters. Viruses and 
theft round out the list and are espe- 
cially vexing because, unlike the rest of 
our list, they are deliberate. 

Let's take a closer look at some of 
these causes along with brief tips for 



preventive measures that will either 
eliminate or reduce the chances 
they'll strike your precious data. 

Lights Out 

If you're old enough to remember 
the good old days of DOS and the pro- 
grams that were available then (such as 
the character-based versions of Lotus 
1-2-3, Ashton-Tate's dBASE II and III, 
and similar applications), you may also 
remember that a power interruption 
was a disastrous event. 




Early software didn't automatically 
save your work every so often and 
kept all active work in a computer's 
system memory, which of course 
meant it would disappear as soon as 
users exited a program or turned off 
the computer. And some programs, 
such as dBASE and its variations, cor- 
rupted data files willy-nilly if users 
didn't shut them down properly. 

Furthermore, early programs didn't 
prompt you (or nag you, depending 
on your point of view) to save your 
work before exiting them. 

We've come a long way since then. 
We don't know of any major Windows 
or Mac OS productivity application 
that doesn't have two modern data- 
saving features. The first is the ability to 
perform an automatic file save 
every few minutes. Even this 
feature has improved beyond 
its first introduction. Then, it 
was often optional; today, 
having an autosave feature en- 
abled is the default for most ap- 
plications. If something goes 
wrong, you'll probably only 
lose the work you've done since 
your software's last autosave. 

The second (relatively) new 
feature is the friendly reminder 
you get with virtually all 
modern applications if you try 
to exit them with an unsaved 
file on your screen. Again, we 
don't know of any major appli- 
cation that doesn't prompt you 
to save on exit. Some programs 
keep track of your saves and 
don't nag you if you haven't changed a 
file since the last time you saved it. 

These items minimize human error 
during shutdowns, but that still leaves 
power failures. We'd recommend you 
use a UPS (uninterruptible power 
supply). Relatively inexpensive single- 
computer units are available from 
American Power Conversion (www 
.apcc.com), Tripp Lite (www.tripplite 
.com), and TSI Power (www.tsipower 
.com), among others. 

In the event of a power failure or se- 
vere brownout, a UPS provides you 



106 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



g) Recovering Data 



with a brief period of continued opera- 
tion so you can properly shut down 
your PC. It can also protect your com- 
puter from electrical surges and spikes, 
which can be equally devastating. More 
expensive models can continuously 
provide steady, clean battery power to 
get you through brownouts and/or au- 
tomatically (and properly) shut your 
system down if you're not present. 

Oops 

We can sum up another consistent 
cause of data loss or corruption in two 
words: operator error. For example, say 
you call up an older file to use as a tem- 
plate for a new one, then accidentally 
save it using the old name instead of a 
newer one. Oops, your original is gone. 

Or perhaps you have a brilliant idea 
and edit an older file so it's no longer 
recognizable, only to find out you 
should have checked with a supervisor 
or your co-workers first. 

Sometimes you're absolutely sure 
you're not going to need a file any- 
more. No matter how often the oper- 
ating system or some other application 
pleads with you to reconsider, you go 
ahead and delete it anyway, only to find 
out that you do, in fact, still need it. 

As with backups and improper 
shutdowns, software often comes to 
the rescue in cases of operator error. 
Many productivity applications come 
equipped with automatic backup fea- 
tures that save the previous version of 
your file each time you save the cur- 
rent version. Some applications use 
versioning to keep all previously saved 
editions of a file, and office suites 
from Corel, Lotus, and Microsoft also 
have features for group work that will 
not only save all versions but will 
identify who made each change to a 
target file, too. 

Graphics applications let you save 
checkpoints as you work and let you 
revert to the most recent checkpoint, or 
to one several steps back. Unlike au- 
tosave, however, some applications 
don't come with their automatic 
backup features active by default. 



There's no preventive measure that 
will stop people from doing themselves 
in by mistakenly deleting files, but 
there is hope. Various applications, 
such as McAfee's EasyRecovery($49.99 
for one year subscription; www 
.mcafee.com/us), and versions of 
Windows since Windows 95, have pro- 
vided file recovery options for years. In 
Windows, it's called the Recycle Bin. If 
you can get to the file within a few days 
of discovering your error, and if your 
PC hasn't written anything over its 
physical location on your hard drive, 
you can restore it. 






EE 



Track Changes | User Information | Compatibility | File Locations 
View | General J Edit | Print 5ave Spelling & Grammar 



Hi a parPb,-U 
T Allow fast saves 
I - Prompt For document properties 
I - Prompt to save Normal template 
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l~~ Embed characters in use only 

■■•v '-■ .':'.. . .■ ' '■■/'■■ ': 

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5 Save AutoRecover info every: 



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Read-only recommended 



■■•■ :.id to modify: 



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In Microsoft Word, you can configure both 
the timed backup and backup copy options 
by clicking the Tools menu. Options, and the 
Save tab in the Options dialog box. 

More Power To You 

Here's a cause for data loss that 
many users don't notice. The culprit 
can be either a brownout or a faulty 
power supply in your PC. Under the 
right conditions, the power getting to 
your system's memory isn't quite as 
much as it needs. The system's internal 
voltage doesn't drop enough to make it 
shut down or spontaneously reboot, 
but it may drop far enough so that the 
contents of your PC's memory turn to 
garble just as a program saves them to 
your hard drive. In addition, your hard 
drive may or may not be spinning at 
proper speeds for the same reason. 

Signs that this may be happening in- 
clude unexplained program file cor- 
ruption and data file corruption. By the 



way, even if you're absolutely certain 
there haven't been any brownouts in 
your area, a power supply or memory 
module getting ready to go south can 
cause the same grief. 

If you're comfortable using a voltage 
meter, try checking the voltage of the 
current coming from the power outlet 
you normally use for your computer. 
You should be particularly suspicious 
if it shares a circuit with a furnace, air 
conditioner, refrigerator, or another 
heavy appliance that just may draw ex- 
cessive power during startup, which is 
usually not a good idea. 

You may also experience brownouts 
more often in a home office than you 
would in either a downtown business 
or heavy industrial area. This is because 
power companies are more likely to re- 
duce power to residential areas during 
periods of peak demand by their busi- 
ness and industrial customers. 

If a memory module is on the 
blink, you'll see other signs, such as 
spontaneous reboots, unpredictable 
lockups, and/or excessive and seem- 
ingly inexplicable error messages. 

UPSes (once again) and regular 
backups are the best defenses for 
problems such as these. 

Hard Drive Heaven 

Hard drives, floppy diskettes, and 
other magnetic and optical storage 
media can also ravage your precious 
data. Misaligned storage drives (caused 
either by age or, in notebooks, by the 
knocks and shocks of being moved 
about) can create disks that other sys- 
tems can't read. 

A magnetic medium can, over time, 
lose its formatting as the magnetic 
charge that established it in the first 
place begins to dissipate. Magnetic 
devices can also sustain damage from 
stray particles of dust, hair, and other 
things (such as coffee, soda, and food 
crumbs) that may be present in the 
typical computing environment. 

You'd be surprised how many 
people routinely keep floppies on top 
of their monitors, beside their system 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 107 



g) Recovering Data 



speakers, or near their telephones, 
which are all sources of magnetic 
fields. We've even seen users who keep 
them on their windowsills where they 
get nice and hot in the direct sunlight. 

Even if you keep your hard drive and 
other magnetic media from physical 
harm, the FAT, or file allocation table, 
that Windows uses to keep track of a 
disk's contents may become corrupt 
under certain circumstances. If this oc- 
curs, Windows may not be able to find 
the file you need, even if it's stored 
safely. (For more information on the 
intricacies of the FAT system, see "How 
Drives Store Files" on page 24.) 

Optical media (CD-ROMs, DVDs, 
and other such items) aren't subject to 
all of the same hazards, but they have 
problems of their own. If you store 
data on optical media at the low end of 
its acceptable quality range using a 
drive that is also less than optimal, it's 
not too hard to create an unreliable 
disc that some folks colloquially refer 
to as a coaster. This can happen be- 
cause the standards governing the 
quality of optical media and both the 
recording and playback devices are a 
range of values, not absolute figures. If 
you have one of the newer, high-speed 
CD-RW (CD-rewriteable) drives, your 
chances of producing a bad disc de- 
crease if you slow down the recording 
speed, make sure you have discs rated 
for the higher recording speed, or both. 

The best prevention for such prob- 
lems is to make backup copies of your 
data on a regular basis. That way if 
your hard drive dies or that mission- 
critical file comes up missing, you 
needn't panic. After replacing the 
faulty drive, floppy diskette, or CD, 
you can simply reach up to the shelf 
where you keep your latest set of 
backups and get back to work. See 
"Back Up A Bit" on page 141 for more 
information on making backups. 

Viruses, Hackers & Other Hazards 

Viruses and hackers pose yet an- 
other threat to your data, particularly 
(although not exclusively) if you use a 



broadband cable modem or DSL 
(Digital Subscriber Line) connections 
to access the Internet. 

Simply installing antivirus software 
and a personal firewall isn't enough. 
You also need to keep them up-to-date, 
preferably weekly. See "Infected Files & 
Systems" on page 115 for more infor- 
mation on protecting your data from 
external infection. 

It Only Takes A Spark 




Antistatic wrist straps, such as this one from 
Belkin, generally sell for less than $10 at local 
electronics and computer stores and can 
prevent data loss caused by static entering 
your hard drive through its data cable. 

It may be lots of fun to shuffle your 
stocking feet on the carpet and chase a 
loved one around the room with a full 
charge of static electricity. However, if 
you do something like this to your PC, 
particularly when you have it open for 
upgrades or repairs, you could fry the 
component you're installing. You 
could also damage such items as the 
motherboard, graphics controller, 
memory modules, or processor. 

Most people who delve into their 
computers on a regular basis are aware 
they shouldn't pick up memory mod- 
ules without first discharging any static 
they may be carrying. If not, big, bright 
warnings on the packaging usually 
make them aware of this. However, 
fewer understand that grabbing one of 
the internal data cables leading to a 
hard drive can quite effectively clear 
the data from all or part of the drive. 

We try to keep furry, static-filled 
cats out of the room while working 
on our computers and try to main- 
tain a ban on dogs, small children, 



and clumsy relatives, too. In addition, 
it's a good idea either to wear an anti- 
static wrist strap while working inside 
your computer or regularly reach out 
to the metal base of a lamp or copper 
water pipe or similarly grounded ob- 
ject. Keeping a loved one handy to 
dump the static onto may also work, 
if you're feeling adventuresome. 

Bad Software, Bad . . . 

You just couldn't wait to install the 
latest video game or the new drivers for 
your new printer. But there's one small 
problem: When you're done, you've 
had to kiss Windows or some vital part 
of it goodbye. The software wrote 
garbage all over your hard drive or in- 
terferes with a vital component. 

If you've bought much software, you 
know that in some cases, quality isn't 
exactly job one. Sometimes you'll get 
conflicts and fatal errors just from fol- 
lowing the software's installation in- 
structions. If you're using Windows 
Me or Windows XP, take advantage of 
the System Restore feature that lets you 
make a backup of the state of your 
system before you install new products. 

Be Prepared 

You can count on a critical file 
coming up bad (or missing altogether) 
some day. We recently heard someone 
discussing such a minidisaster with a 
co-worker over coffee. "Yup," said the 
worker, "we nearly lost all of the files 
for the [client name] account last 
week. But we were lucky we'd made 
backups the night before." 

Luck had nothing to do with it. 
Thanks to some handy technology, 
preventing data loss is easier now than 
ever. In the event that your data does 
fall victim to one of its myriad enemies, 
there's still hope. In the next several ar- 
ticles, look at a number of topics that 
relate to the causes of and remedies for 
data loss, as well as some preventative 
medicine along the way. HI] 

by Myles White 



108 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



g) Recovering Data 



Recovering File 
Fragments 

Discovering Digital Debris 



Ever wonder why Windows 
scolds you whenever you 
restart your computer after 
shutting it off the wrong way? Sure, 
you may know that pulling your 
PC's plug without shutting down 
Windows can cause errors, but it 
may not have been your fault. 
Perhaps Windows refused to 
shut down, and no amount of 
pressing CTRL-ALT-DELETE 
would help. Or perhaps your 
haughty PC is blaming you 
for an electrical brownout. 
Whatever the reason 
Windows runs the Scan- 
Disk (Win95/98/Me) or 
Chkdsk (WinXP) utili- 
ties to make sure there 
are no resulting file er- 
rors. ScanDisk and 
Chkdsk can turn stray 
pieces of files, or lost 
clusters, into file frag 
ments for your review, 
explain what these are 
what to do if your system 
denly develops some. 

Orphans 

In order for a discussion on file frag- 
ments to make any sense to you, we 
need to give you a little more back- 
ground. Put simply, Windows' file sys- 
tems, such as FAT (file allocation table, 
16-bit) and FAT32 (32-bit), have cer- 
tain methods of storing and keeping 
track of files on the hard drive. We're 
interested here in what happens when 
they are interrupted in the middle of 
doing so. We'll focus on Win95/98/Me 
for our primary examples in this 



article, but we'll talk about WinXP's 
key differences near the end. 

The FAT in FAT and FAT32 is a 
database that keeps tabs on files. 
Whenever you save or delete a file, 
Windows dutifully records it in the 

FAT. That way, whenever you need 
to open the file, Windows 




will know exactly where on the hard 
drive to look. 

So far, so good. Here's where the 
plot thickens a bit. Files aren't always 
stored in their entirety in a single 
place on the hard drive. Sometimes, 
Windows may save a larger file with 
part of it here, another part there, 
and so on. The reason for this is that 
Windows writes files on the hard dri- 
ve's disks as space is available. As old 
files and applications are deleted, 



gaps open up in the disks' data, ready 
to store new information. 

If Windows can't find room to save 
the file in one contiguous chunk, it 
will write pieces of the file where it 
does have room. When you open the 
file with its application, Windows as- 
sembles the file from its resting places 
on the drive. 

The FAT keeps track of files in sec- 
tions called clusters, or allocation 
units, usually 2KB to 32KB in size. For 
a discussion of Win98/Me's two types 
of file systems and WinXP's three, see 
"How Drives Store Files" on page 20. 

If something unfortunate happens 
between the time Windows saves a file 
in several clusters (called a chain) to 
the hard drive and records all of the 
clusters' addresses in the FAT, it leads 
to problems. For example, if 
an application crashes or the 
system's power goes out at 
this sensitive time, Windows 
may no longer know where 
to look for some of the clus- 
ters storing parts of the file. 
It's like burying your trea- 
sure and losing the map 
over the side of the ship in 
the next big wave. 

When this happens, er- 
rors crop up in Win- 
dows' digital ledger, the 
FAT. It may think two 
files are stored using 
the same cluster; 
these are cross- 
linked files. The 
FAT also may 
know that particular 
clusters are storing data, but 
it won't know what file they belong 
to. Windows calls these lost clusters. 
The result is partial files left in incom- 
plete states because the FAT didn't 
have time to record where their or- 
phaned clusters are located. 

The reason why Windows runs 
ScanDisk after a bad shutdown is that 
it can find such errors. Better still, it 
can fix them with a sweep of its 
broom. However, you may want to sift 
through its sweepings before you let it 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 109 



g) Recovering Data 



empty the dustbin. In other words, 
you should review the file fragments 
Scandisk finds instead of letting it 
delete them sight unseen. After all, you 
may be able to rescue parts of some of 
those file fragments. 

Scanning The Disk 

Before you run ScanDisk in 
Win95/98/Me, there are a few set- 
tings you should adjust. Click Start, 
Programs, Accessories, System Tools, 
System Information and Tools 
(WinMe only), and ScanDisk. Instead 
of starting a scan of your hard 
drive right now, though, click the 
Advanced button. 

The chief setting we're concerned 
with in the ScanDisk Advanced 
Options window is the Lost File 
Fragments one in the upper right 
corner. This tells ScanDisk what to 
do when it discovers stray pieces of 
files. The problem with the Lost File 
Fragments setting is that it's a little 
cryptic. Instead of straightforward 
choices such as Save or Delete, 
Microsoft presents us with Free 
or Convert To Files. If Lost File 
Fragments is set to Free, ScanDisk 
will automatically delete file frag- 
ments whenever it finds them. This 
frees up hard disk space that would 
otherwise be wasted; hence the name. 

Click the Convert To Files option. 
This tells ScanDisk that instead of 
erasing file fragments, it should save 
them in the system's root directory 
(such as C:\) with file names such as 
FileOOOl.CHK, File0002.CHK, and so 
on. We'll tell you how to examine these 
saved file fragments below; but first, 
back to ScanDisk. 

Next, click the Make Copies option 
under Cross-Linked Files. Remember 
that these denote files that the FAT 
believes both use the same cluster to 
store data. ScanDisk isn't smart 
enough to make a judgment as to 
which file is correct, so the Make 
Copies option tells it to save copies of 
both files for you to find and examine 
later. The Delete option directs 



ScanDisk to get rid of cross-linked 
files. This isn't a very good idea be- 
cause it will delete two files, one of 
which may be OK. If the files are im- 
portant to an application or Win- 
dows itself, deleting them could cause 
problems. The Ignore option means 
just that: ScanDisk will turn a blind 
eye to cross-linked files and continue 
scanning for other errors. 

If you're experiencing frequent er- 
rors like the ones we've described, click 
the Append To Log option under Log 
File. This makes ScanDisk add to the 
error log whenever it runs instead of 
replacing it. That way, you won't lose 
potential troubleshooting information 
from the last time you ran ScanDisk 
every time you start a scan. The log file 
is called Scandisk.LOG and is usually 
stored in C:\. If you're not getting fre- 
quent errors, use the Replace Log op- 
tion to keep Scandisk.LOG from 
growing too large over time. 

Finally, in the Display Summary 
area, select Always. It's nice to get a 
report from ScanDisk when it's done 
with its scan, not just when it's 
found errors. 

Click OK when you're done with 
the Advanced Options window. In 
ScanDisk's scroll window labeled Select 
The Drive(s) You Want To Check For 
Errors, click your hard drive's or rele- 
vant partition's letter once to highlight 
it. Under Type Of Test, choose either 
Standard or Thorough. A scan with the 
Thorough option takes much longer, 
but it also examines the physical sur- 
face of the hard disks for damage. 

If you want even greater control over 
what ScanDisk does, you have the op- 
tion to leave Automatically Fix Errors 
unchecked. If ScanDisk finds errors, it 
will ask you what to do with each. 
Typically, your options at these times 
will resemble the ones in the Advanced 
settings window, such as Delete, Copy, 
and so on. As we just made most 
of these decisions by adjusting 
the Advanced settings, we'll leave 
Automatically Fix Errors enabled. 

Finally, close all open applications ex- 
cept ScanDisk before starting its scan. 



Remember, it checks the files and folders 
on your hard drive against their entries 
in the FAT database, so there's no point 



Terms To Know 



allocation unit — Another term 
for cluster. 

chain — A sequence of clusters 
storing a file on a hard drive. If the 
hard drive doesn't have enough 
room to store the clusters contigu- 
ously, the chain will lead from place 
to place on the hard disk platter(s) 
until the file is completely written. 

cluster — A storage unit for data. The 
granularity of the cluster size de- 
pends upon the file allocation 
system used (such as FAT32) and the 
size of the partition or hard drive. 

cross-linked files — Two files that, 
due to an error in the FAT, both 
claim the same cluster. 

FAT — Cenerically, the file allocation 
table, or database, Windows uses to 
chart the location of files on the 
hard drive. May also describe the 
FAT16 file allocation system, as op- 
posed to FAT32. 

file fragments — Pieces of files con- 
verted into text-based CHK files. 

lost clusters — Storage units undocu- 
mented by the FAT holding partial 
files at the end of a chain. These 
clusters are lost because the FAT 
was disrupted, perhaps by a power 
loss or application crash, before it 
could fully document the chain. 

NTFS— WinNT/2000/XP can use the 
NT file system, which is more reli- 
able and secure than FAT or FAT32. 

partition — A section of a hard drive's 
storage space defined by the oper- 
ating system. Each partition has its 
own drive letter, such as C: or E:. 



110 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



g) Recovering Data 



in letting other programs use or alter 
files while ScanDisk is running. Click 
Start to begin. If Automatically Fix 
Errors is unchecked, you may have to 
make some decisions about any errors 
ScanDisk finds. After it's done you'll see 
the summary of the scan. It will tell you 
if ScanDisk found any bad sectors 
(storage units smaller than 
clusters) or other errors. 



Recovering Fragments 



chance of imparting some useful infor- 
mation to you than would, say, a 
graphics or audio file format. You 
might even discover a clue to the file's 
real identity. Of course, if the file frag- 
ment was part of a graphics or audio 
file, all you'll see in its textual represen- 
tation is alphabet soup. There's not 



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If ScanDisk found file 
fragments, they should now 
appear as CHK fries in your 
C:\ directory (assuming that 
is your PC's root directory). 
Launch Windows Explorer 
by right-clicking the Start 
menu and choosing Ex- 
plore. Click the C:\ drive 
entry in the left panel to 
highlight it. The right panel 
will then show the folders 
and files in that directory. 

Let's say there's a new 

file in your C:\ directory called 
FileOOOl.CHK. CHK isn't a common 
file extension, but fortunately, you can 
view this type of file in an ASCII-based 
text editor such as WordPad or 
Notepad. (NOTE: ASCII stands for 
American Standard Code for Informa- 
tion Interchange. It's a fairly universal 
text format many computer programs 
can open. ) 

If the FileOOOl.CHK file won't open 
when you double-click it, you may 
have to hold down the SHIFT key as 
you right-click it. Next, click Open 
With. In the Open With dialog box, 
scroll down to Notepad or WordPad, 
select one, and click OK. Note that 
you can view the log file, Scan- 
disk.LOG, the same way to read about 
any other errors ScanDisk uncovered. 

And now, brace yourself for disap- 
pointment. What you're likely to see in 
Notepad or WordPad is a mess of 
random characters. This is because no 
matter what type of file the fragment 
originally came from, ScanDisk turns it 
into a text file. Text stands a better 



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You can open file fragments with the CHK extension in Notepad or WordPad 



much you can do with a CHK file like 
this apart from deleting it to regain its 
hard drive space. 

If the file fragment was text-based 
to begin with, you may have a shot 
at recovering some of it. For ex- 
ample, a CHK file salvaged from a 
corrupt word processor file may 
have lots of gibberish characters in 
it representing formatting informa- 
tion such as boldface, italics, and 
the like. However, it may also have 
sentence fragments here and there 
that look perfectly good. 

If you find readable strings of text in 
the CHK file, try to figure out what 
document they came from. Next, 
open that document in its appropriate 
application. Now you'll need to decide 
if the text in the CHK file is something 
you really need to keep. If it's part of 
the latest draft of your business pro- 
posal, which you didn't quite get the 
chance to save before your golden re- 
triever knocked the power strip's cord 
out of the wall plug, you may have just 
saved yourself a lot of grief. 



Use your mouse to highlight a sec- 
tion of text that you want to save from 
the CHK file. Next, right-click it and 
choose Cut. Click the other applica- 
tion's window where you would like to 
deposit the text. Finally, right-click and 
choose Paste. Do this for each text 
string you wish to salvage. When 
you're sure you've gleaned 
everything usable from the 
CHK file, close it without 
saving the changes and 
delete it later. 

WinXP 

WinXP doesn't have the 
ScanDisk utility. Instead, it 
uses a similar program 
called Chkdsk, which you 
can initiate by clicking 
Start and Run, then typing 
chkdsk /r and pressing 
ENTER. The /r switch tells 
Chkdsk to recover any file 
fragments it finds on your 
drive. Because you're at- 
tempting to run Chkdsk within 
Windows, it will likely tell you it can't 
lock the current drive, meaning it 
can't keep other programs from ac- 
cessing files while it works. Press Y 
and ENTER to tell Chkdsk to run the 
next time you reboot. Click Start, 
Turn Off Computer, and Restart. 

Chkdsk looks more contemporary 
than ScanDisk as it runs, but it will tell 
you many of the same things. 
However, Chkdsk works with NTFS 
(NT File System), as well as FAT or 
FAT32. Note that CHK file fragments 
in WinXP may show up in various 
places on your hard drive, so you may 
have to search for them. To do this, 
right-click Start and choose Explore. 
Next, right-click My Computer and se- 
lect Search. Click All Files and Folders, 
then type *.chk and press ENTER. 
Right-click one CHK file and select 
Open With twice. Click Select The 
Program From A List and then Note- 
pad and OK. H 

by Marty Sems 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 111 



g) Recovering Data 



File Corruption 

&lts 
Consequences 

How To Deal With Data 
On The Wrong Side Of The Tracks 




Sometimes, without any warning 
at all, bad things happen to good 
files. Maybe the data becomes in- 
explicably inaccessible. Maybe a file 
goes on the fritz, displaying nonsensical 
characters where letters and numbers 
used to be. Maybe a natural disaster or 
careless co-worker renders the storage 
media useless. Whatever the cause, the 
data goes sour and you cannot use it. 
This is known as file corruption. 

The Face Of Corruption 

File corruption occurs whenever 
data becomes damaged in some way. 
The damage may be minimal, affecting 



only a few elements in a large file. For 
example, a text document that be- 
comes corrupted may suddenly con- 
tain a series of box characters where a 
paragraph used to be. Likewise, the 
damage caused by file corruption can 
be quite extensive, destroying the con- 
tents of an entire folder or drive. 

Corruption can occur for as many 
reasons as there are PCs. Generally 
speaking, however, the causes of file 
corruption typically break down into 
six categories: physical problems with 
the storage media, hardware malfunc- 
tions, natural disasters, viruses, soft- 
ware errors, and human errors. The 
first three sources of corruption relate 



to the storage media, while the latter 
three relate to the files themselves. 

Physical problems with the storage 
media. By far, the number one cause 
of file corruption is a physical break- 
down within the storage media, says 
Bill Margeson, president of CBL Data 
Recovery Technologies. 

"People trust the medium way too 
much," Margeson says. "We always 
have to think of magnetic media as 
transient. Disk drives and diskettes 
can be brand new and still have bad 
sectors. It's a naturally occurring phe- 
nomenon. . . . People need to be as 
nervous about the media as we are." 

As you may already know, a com- 
puter stores data on a hard drive or 
3.5-inch diskette by transmitting a se- 
ries of magnetic signals to the surface 
of the media. Therein lies the first po- 
tential problem. If you could look 
at the smooth surface of a storage 
medium through the eyepiece of an 
electron microscope, you would see 
that it is not as smooth as it appears. 
The surface actually is pockmarked 
with peaks and troughs that, although 
invisible to the naked eye, have a very 
real effect on the magnetic signals. 
Specifically, these rough features may 
cause the magnetic charge to be weak 
in some places and nonexistent in 
others. These areas of weakness are 
called bad sectors. If data is stored in 
a bad sector, it becomes corrupted. 

A second problem is caused by 
the natural effects of wear and tear. 
Consider what happens when you rent 
an old movie at your local video store. 
As you watch the movie, you may no- 
tice lines on the screen or a sound- 
track that seems warbled in parts. 
Such audio and video distortion indi- 
cates a breakdown in the medium that 
occurs from playing the video again 
and again. The same thing can happen 
to storage media. The coding eventu- 
ally shows signs of degradation as the 
magnetic signals get weaker. 

A final physical problem with the 
storage media is due to changes in areal 
density (the amount of data stored in a 
certain area). Storage manufacturers 



112 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



I Recovering Data 



have developed technologies that 
let them pack a lot of data into 
very small areas. This is good be- 
cause it lets manufacturers create 
storage media that can hold more 
programs and data, but it is bad be- 
cause it compounds the problem of 
data corruption. 

To illustrate why, imagine a situ- 
ation in which you draw a 6-inch 
square in the middle of a horse 
corral and place an egg in the 
middle of the square. When you 
release a horse in the corral, it may or 
may not step inside the square. If it 
does, the horse will trample on one 
egg. But what happens if you place a 
dozen eggs inside the same square? 
The odds of the horse stepping inside 
the square are the same regardless of 
how many eggs are in it. But if the 
horse steps inside the square, it now 
will trample 12 eggs instead of one. 

The same is true of file corruption. 
Storage media with high areal density 
are no more prone to file corruption 
than those with low areal density. 
Nevertheless, if data corruption oc- 
curs, it will affect more data on media 
with high areal density than data on 
media with low areal density. The re- 
sult is that you may feel the effects of 
corruption more acutely if you use 
new media than if you use old media. 

Hardware malfunctions. The most 
common corruption-causing hard- 
ware malfunctions are related to the 
components in a storage drive. An er- 
rant read/write head, for instance, 
can create all sorts of problems in 
recording and retrieving data. Another 
hardware component that is likely to 
damage file integrity is a malfunc- 
tioning data cable (may produce errors 
in data transmissions). Such malfunc- 
tions typically result from manufac- 
turing defects, normal wear and tear, 
and environmental factors such as 
high humidity or excessive dust. 

Natural disasters. Floods, fires, tor- 
nados, and other natural disasters 
cause some of the most remarkable 
stories of file corruption, but they ac- 
tually account for a small percentage 



Media Surface Corrosion 



The surface of a storage medium is not as smooth as it appears to be. Tiny peaks and 
troughs in its surface lead to areas where the magnetic attraction is strong or weak or 
nonexistent. As the magnetism degrades over time, some of the data becomes corrupted. 



•• 



*«• •• 



• normal magnetic signals 

• weak magnetic signals 



areas of no magnetism; bad sector 
media surface 



of all files affected by corruption. Of 
course, natural disasters cause cor- 
ruption by inflicting physical damage 
upon the storage media. A flood may 
soak a hard drive in muddy sludge, 
for instance, whereas the extreme heat 
of a fire may warp the media. 

Virus infections. Viruses, which are 
designed specifically for the purpose 
of vandalizing digital data, are another 
major cause of file corruption. A virus 
can inflict its damage in several ways: 
by manipulating existing data, by 
adding superfluous data, or by de- 
stroying existing data. Files that be- 
come infected by a virus may become 
inaccessible or may exhibit strange be- 
haviors. It is important to clean these 
files with antivirus software as soon as 
possible so you can protect your other 
fdes from the same fate. 

Software errors. A small glitch in an 
application can create big problems 
for data files on your PC. That's be- 
cause the application plays a big part 
in the way data is recorded on the 
storage media. If the application hic- 
cups or gets snagged by a bug during a 
data transmission, the data may not 
transfer correctly and you could end 
up with a corrupt file. Such mishaps 
are uncommon, but they do happen. 

A common example of a software- 
related error is the crosslinked file, 
which becomes lost because the soft- 
ware made a mistake in recording its 
location on the storage media. When 
the software goes to look for the data, 
it can't find it. 

Human errors. Although we would 
like to blame system hardware and 



software for the problems that plague 
our computers, we must point the fin- 
gers at ourselves a significant portion 
of the time. Errors caused by humans, 
whether accidental or deliberate, are 
responsible for more obliterated data 
and corrupt files than buggy software 
or a read/write head gone askew. 

Turning off the computer without 
shutting it down properly is the human 
error that most frequently results in 
data corruption. When this happens, 
open applications do not have time to 
store data using the normal routines. 
Bits are likely to be lost, overlooked, or 
scrambled as the system resources shut 
down unexpectedly. These bits end up 
as file fragments instead of whole and 
complete files. Consequently, the file 
ends up corrupted. 

Here are a few more examples of 
human errors that will likely corrupt 
files: accidentally deleting specific data 
or files; intentionally sabotaging or 
damaging data on another person's PC; 
and unwittingly exposing storage 
media to a magnetic source, such as an 
X-ray. It's important to remember that 
digital data is highly susceptible to 
forces that could alter the attraction of 
signals to the surface of the media. 
Positioning a magnet near a diskette 
scrambles the magnetic signals and 
leaves you with a lot of corrupt data. 

Ways To Cope 

As bad as it may seem to be, file cor- 
ruption doesn't have to be the worst 
thing to hit your PC. Knowing how to 
prevent and respond to file corruption 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 113 



g) Recovering Data 



is all it takes to turn a near-tragedy 
into a minor inconvenience. 

Prevention is key. The first thing 
you should do to prevent file corrup- 
tion is regularly use ScanDisk and 
Disk Defragmenter, both of which 
you can find by burrowing through 
the Programs (All Programs in Win- 
dows XP) and Accessories folders on 
the Windows Start menu. 

ScanDisk scours your storage media 
for physical problems, such as bad sec- 
tors, file fragments, and crosslinked 
files, which spell trouble for the health 
of your data. These problem areas are 
either fixed or marked as off-limits to 
the rest of your PC, thereby preventing 
data from occupying the areas that are 
most at risk for corruption. You should 
run ScanDisk at least once a week. 

Disk Defragmenter, on the other 
hand, organizes your data for more ef- 
ficient storage and retrieval. Inefficient 
data storage opens the door to file cor- 
ruption by forcing your system to work 
harder than usual at maintaining file 
integrity. An OS (operating system) 
that must search the entire media in 
order to find the data it needs is more 
likely to make a mistake than is an OS 
that knows exactly where its data is lo- 
cated. Run Disk Defragmenter at least 
once every six months and run it more 
often if you regularly add and delete 
numerous files from your computer. 

The next step you should take to 
prevent file corruption is to engage in 
backup and antivirus routines. You 
should perform these routines correctly 



every day. For the backup routine, you 
should perform a daily incremental 
backup (a backup of only the data that 
has changed since the previous day), as 
well as a weekly or monthly complete 
backup (a backup of all important files 
on your PC). For your antivirus rou- 
tine, update the antivirus software 
weekly and run it on all programs and 
files that you bring into your PC. 

The third step is to download soft- 
ware patches and driver updates as 
they become available. By investing 
the time to get these bits of code, 
which fix minor problems with your 
applications and hardware compo- 
nents, you'll reduce the likelihood of 
corruption due to software errors and 
hardware malfunctions. 

Finally, make sure you keep your 
storage media in good shape. This en- 
tails storing the media in a cool, dry 
place and limiting its exposure to dust 
and smoke. You also should reduce 
stress on the media by keeping 10% of 
its capacity empty at all times. 

Respond in time. If prevention 
falls short or comes too late, you 
have no recourse but to respond to 
the corruption that has put your 
system at risk. And respond you 
must. Too many computer users lose 
valuable data because they throw in 
the towel without making a fair at- 
tempt to recover from file corrup- 
tion. Recovery may be possible even 
if the data has been deleted or the 
storage media has been damaged be- 
yond recognition. So the first step in 



The Downside Of Areal Density 



A real density lets hardware manufacturers create new storage media that can hold a 
lot more data than old storage media. It also results in more lost data when corruption 
occurs. Why? Because an area that might have held only a single bit of data on an old 
storage medium now holds several bits on a new storage medium. If that area of the 
media becomes corrupted, the user loses several bits of data instead of a single bit. 



• one bit of data 

^^ area lost to file 
corruption 



>(•) 



"®^ ri - *^ r~~^ f*^ 



responding to file corruption is to 
make an effort at recovery. 

The next thing you should do, as- 
suming that the storage media is 
viable, is make a copy of the corrupt 
file. Never try to recover data from the 
original file, lest your efforts at recovery 
lead to more corruption. You'll have 
plenty of time to work on the original 
file once you figure out how to arrest 
the corruption and recover data from 
the copy. Make the copy using My 
Computer or Windows Explorer rather 
than the program's Save command. 

You then should run antivirus soft- 
ware on the copied file. This will 
eradicate any infections that may be 
corrupting your data. Attempting to 
recover data from an infected file is 
likely to spread the virus and lead to 
more corruption. If you don't have 
antivirus software, you should take a 
look at McAfee's VirusScan ($39.99; 
us.mcafee.com) or Symantec's Nor- 
ton Antivirus 2005 ($49.95; www 
.symantec.com) about getting some. 

Another option for recovering data 
from a corrupt text file is to open it 
using Microsoft Word's Recover Text 
From Any File command. You can ac- 
cess this command by opening the File 
menu, selecting Open, and choosing 
the Recover Text From Any File com- 
mand from the Files Of Type menu in 
the Open dialog box. Locate the cor- 
rupt file and click the Open button to 
recover whatever data is still available. 

Beyond hope of recovery. Unfor- 
tunately, some instances of file cor- 
ruption are beyond any hope of 
recovery. Situations in which the 
original data has been overwritten 
or where the magnetic signals have 
disappeared completely may leave 
no possibility of recovery. The best 
way to minimize lost data is to pro- 
ceed with caution whenever you re- 
alize that corruption has occurred. 
After all, the only thing worse than a 
good file gone bad is a good file 
gone bye-bye. H 

byJeffDodd 



114 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



g) Recovering Data 



Infected Files 
& Systems 

Save Your System From A Fall 




Texas A&M University, 1981. Sev- 
eral computer users with too 
much time on their hands de- 
cided to see whether they could create 
a program that would replicate itself 
automatically on any computer with 
which it came in contact. The group 
devised several strains of such a 
program and, fueled by curiosity, 
eventually released it on the computer 
systems at the Texas school. 

That program died shortly after its 
release, but the idea did not. Twenty 
years later, self-replicating programs 
called viruses have become weapons of 



technological warfare for the 21st cen- 
tury. Malicious hackers, hiding behind 
stolen Internet addresses, use these 
programs to damage as many bytes as 
they can. Their viruses have become a 
virtual plague on the digital world. But 
it is possible to minimize the damage 
on your PC. All it takes is a little educa- 
tion and protective software. 

Mean, Lean & Ready To Spread 

Computer viruses run like any other 
program on your PC. They are bits of 
digital code put together to achieve a 



common purpose. Unfortunately, the 
common purpose has malevolent ten- 
dencies. Rather than extend or en- 
hance the capabilities of a computer, 
viruses interfere with normal com- 
puting operations. Worse yet, they are 
designed to spread. 

Viruses spread by infecting a host, 
which is either a program or a file. 
The virus infects its host by insinu- 
ating itself within the file or program 
code. It typically inserts itself at the 
beginning or end of the code but may 
replace pieces of the host code alto- 
gether. In any case, the infected host 
serves as the replicating agent. When 
you open the infected program or file, 
you unleash the virus, letting it repli- 
cate itself in other programs and files. 

The bugs can spread to files, pro- 
grams, drives, and other computer 
systems, as well. The most common 
means of acquiring a virus are through 
Internet downloads; email file attach- 
ments; and portable storage media, 
such as floppy diskettes or Zip disks. 

The Face Of Infection 

Viruses come in every shape and 
size. The damage they inflict varies 
widely, depending upon the creativity 
of the hacker who created them. Some 
sources estimate more than 50,000 
viruses exist, though many of these re- 
side only in research labs, with many 
being variations of common virus 
strains. WildList Organization Inter- 
national (www.wildlist.org) estimates 
that approximately 200 viruses threaten 
users. Viruses fall into three main cate- 
gories: file viruses, boot viruses, and 
macro viruses. Two other sources of 
malignant code, worms and Trojan 
horses, are not viruses by definition but 
do share similar characteristics. 

File Viruses 

A file virus infects a program by at- 
taching itself to one of the program's 
executable files (files that contain 
instructions for the PC to perform), 
such as a COM (command), EXE 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 115 



jg Recovering Data 



(executable), or SYS (system) file. 
The virus infiltrates the coding of the 
executable file, inserting itself at the 
beginning or end of the code se- 
quence or replacing the existing code 
altogether. You can acquire a file 
virus by running a program from an 
infected diskette, running an infected 
file that you downloaded from the 
Internet, or by opening an infected 
file in an email attachment. 

Once a file virus has infected your 
PC, it begins to damage programs and 
files. The method of destruction varies 
with each virus. One file virus may 
search out files of a certain type and 
corrupt the data contained in them. 
Another may add new instructions to 
the code so that the program performs 
an unusual function. 

Experts have grouped file viruses 
into subcategories based on how the 
viruses act. Some of the most common 
subcategories include companion 
viruses (create infected COM files as 
companions for any EXE files they 
find), link viruses (load themselves in 
system memory, where they can in- 
fect other programs), or overwriting 
viruses (completely replace a file's orig- 
inal uninfected code with new infected 



code). File viruses are less common 
today than they once were, primarily 
because of the widespread use of an- 
tivirus software. The Die-Hard virus is 
one file virus that still floats around the 
Internet today. 

Boot Viruses 

Also called system or boot sector 
viruses, boot viruses focus their atten- 
tion on the hard drive's MBR (master 
boot record). The MBR contains the 
instructions for starting the PC and 
launching the OS (operating system) 
and keeps track of where data is stored 
on the hard drive. By corrupting the 
MBR, boot viruses make it impossible 
to start the PC, access the OS, and re- 
trieve data from the hard drive. 

Boot viruses also infect diskettes that 
you insert into the PC. The Michelan- 
gelo virus that struck in the early 1990s 
was a boot virus. The primary source 
of boot viruses are infected diskettes 
inserted in the PC when it's booted. 
During the boot process, the malig- 
nant code goes from the diskette to the 
PC's main memory area, where it in- 
fects the startup instructions that are 
part of the MBR. 



Avoid becoming a victim of a boot 
virus by performing a virus scan 
on any diskette you put into your 
PC and write protecting (a means of 
preventing the recording of new data 
to a storage device) any diskettes that 
have important data on them. If you 
think that your PC has acquired a boot 
virus, turn your PC off immediately 
before the virus can inflict any more 
damage on your hard drive. Leave the 
computer turned off until you have 
obtained a remedy from your antivirus 
software developer. You also should 
quarantine any diskettes that recently 
have been in contact with the PC. 

You can write protect your diskettes 
by moving the write-protect tab to the 
up position. Take a diskette out of the 
drive, turn it over, and you'll find the 
write-protect tab at the top-left corner. 

Macro Viruses 

Macro viruses implant themselves 
within data files that support macros 
(customizable keyboard or mouse 
commands that perform particular 
functions within an application). 
Macro viruses are spread whenever in- 
dividuals share infected files. Swapping 



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116 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



g) Recovering Data 



diskettes and sending email attach- 
ments are the most common sources 
of transmission. 

A macro virus remains dormant 
until you open the infected file and ex- 
ecute the macro. In most cases, the 
virus alters the Normal template, which 
in turn infects all documents you create 
or open after that point. A macro virus 
may change the appearance of the doc- 
ument, for instance, or insert unusual 
data in the body of the document. The 
infamous Melissa virus, which hit the 
Internet in 1999, was a macro virus. 

Worms 

A worm is a self-replicating program 
that does not require a host. It can 
replicate without infecting another file 
or program. For this reason, worms are 
not defined as viruses, though they can 
be equally harmful. 

One worm travels across networks 
and exploits security weaknesses. After 
this type of worm infiltrates a network, 
it searches for PCs that demonstrate a 
particular weakness (the creator of the 
worm decides which weaknesses will 
be exploited) and then infects those 
computers with a virus. The CodeRed 
worm, for instance, tried to manipulate 
a security hole in Microsoft's Internet 
Information Services software running 
on the Windows NT or Windows 2000. 
The best way to prevent such a worm 
from damaging your network is to ob- 
tain patches and updates for your soft- 
ware whenever they are offered. 

Another species of worm propagates 
through mass email transmissions. 
This worm breaks into an email pro- 
gram's address book and sends a virus- 
laden message to the addresses it finds 
there. Worms of this sort spread when 
recipients of the emails open the in- 
fected attachments. The Melissa macro 
virus was propagated as a worm. 



Trojan Horse 

A Trojan horse is not a virus by defi- 
nition, either, but a nonreplicating 
malicious program that appears to be 



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something other than what it is. It 
shows up on your PC, usually through 
an email attachment, disguised as a 
program or file that might interest 
you. Only when you open the file at- 
tachment does the Trojan horse show 
its true identity. It may destroy your 
data or damage OS functionality. 

For example, one variation of the 
NetBus Trojan horse comes to your PC 
in the form of a file attachment called 
Whack- A-Mole. The file appears to be 
a game, but it actually establishes a di- 
rect connection between your com- 
puter and the computer of the hacker 
who sent you the Trojan horse. The 
hacker then can access files, manipulate 
system settings, and do just about any- 
thing else to your computer. 

Fight Back 

Of course, it really doesn't matter 
what type of virus or worm or Trojan 
horse you get. They're all bad. The key 
is to discover an infection before it has 
time to inflict damage or replicate it- 
self. Updated antivirus software detects 
and destroys viruses before they can in- 
fect other parts of your system. 

Antivirus software monitors your PC 
for virus-like behavior. When the soft- 
ware discovers suspicious behavior, it 
checks the behavior against a list 
of virus definitions. If the behavior 
matches a virus's definition, the an- 
tivirus program alerts you to the pres- 
ence of the virus and then either deletes 
the infected program or restores the file 
to a pristine condition. 



Don't be lost in the dark when it 
comes to what might reside inside 
your system. Take advantage of 
online resources, such as this 
online virus scanner offered by 
BitDefender (www.bitdefender 
.com), and scan for intruders. 



Norton Antivirus 2005 
( $49.95;www.symantec 
.com), McAfee VirusScan 
($39.99; www.mcafee.com), 
and Command Antivirus 
($19.95; www.commandcom.com) 
are three of the best antivirus utilities. 
Whichever you choose, update fre- 
quently. Failure to do so leaves your 
PC vulnerable to new viruses. 

In addition to running updated an- 
tivirus software, heed a few rules to 
help avoid an infection altogether. 
Never open an attachment you didn't 
ask for. File attachments are the 
leading cause of infections. If you re- 
ceive an unexpected attachment, con- 
tact the sender and verify its contents 
before opening the file. 

Run a virus scan on any file you re- 
ceive. Such a scan checks the file for 
viruses and destroys any that it finds 
before the virus has a chance to infect 
your PC. In most cases, you can exe- 
cute a virus scan by opening My 
Computer, locating the file in question, 
right-clicking the file, and then se- 
lecting the Scan For Viruses command 
from the resulting menu. 

Keep diskettes out of the drive, par- 
ticularly when you boot. This reduces 
the likelihood that your PC will con- 
tract boot viruses, which tend to be the 
most destructive form of self-repli- 
cating code. It also prevents you from 
spreading the virus to other PCs. 

Viruses are pesky critters that can 
make your life terribly inconvenient. 
However, it's just another program, 
and few pose a serious threat to your 
data. When a virus strikes, run your 
antivirus software. You'll be computing 
as usual in no time, [rs] 

by Jeff Dodd 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 117 



g) Recovering Data 



Compressed 
File Saver 

Don't Get Lost In The Translation 



With compression now com- 
monplace, Microsoft inte- 
grated support for Zip files 
into Windows Me and XP, giving 
every PC owner a chance to use the 
handy technology. Compression is a 
terrific way to archive files without 
taking up a lot of space, but what hap- 
pens when you have trouble opening 
those archives? Recovering data 
trapped in compressed files or drives 
requires a slightly different approach 
than the one you'd take to recover un- 
compressed data. Unfortunately, the 
odds for a successful recovery of com- 
pressed files are slim, but with the right 
tools and a little knowledge, there's a 
chance you'll get your files back. 

How Compression Works 

To understand why damaged com- 
pressed files are so difficult to restore, 
you must have a basic understanding 
of how compression works. 

Compression uses mathematical al- 
gorithms to look for repeated data or 
patterns in a file and then creates ta- 
bles containing information on how 
many times data is repeated and 
where it is located in the original file. 

To give an extremely simple example 
of this type of compression, imagine an 
algorithm that looked at this article and 
replaced every occurrence of the word 
"the" with the numerical value "1," 
substituted "compression" with "2," 
and "file" with "3." The lookup table 
for that might read as follows: 

l=the 

2=compression 

3=file 




Aside from the small amount of 
space it takes to store the lookup table 
itself, we can see how this algorithm 
could reduce the overall size of this 
document. For every "the" it replaces 
with a "1," compression saves two 
characters, while each occurrence of 
"file" replaced with a "3" saves us three 
characters. Extend this principle to its 
logical limit, replacing every word, or 
even identical phrase, in this docu- 
ment with a one- or two-digit equiva- 
lent, and you can store this file in a 
fraction of its original size. 

However, compression can also 
make your data more susceptible to 
corruption than in its original version. 
If the lookup table is damaged, the de- 
compression utility has no idea what 
equivalent values need to be plugged in 
and cannot expand the rest of the file. 
Conversely, if a portion of the file itself 
is damaged but the lookup table is 



untouched, the decompression algo- 
rithm will know what data to plug in 
but not where to place it. 

For these reasons recovering data 
from a damaged compressed file or 
hard drive has a low success rate, so set 
your expectations accordingly when 
using recovery software or sending 
such data to recovery specialists. 

File Repair 

If a compressed file won't open or 

generates an error message, you'll need 

special software to fix the problem. 

Before doing anything else, make a 

backup copy of the file you want to 

repair. Open My Computer and 

your primary hard drive (C:), 

right-click an empty spot in the 

hard drive folder, select New in the 

pop-up menu, and click Folder. 

When the new folder appears, 

rename it Recovered Files and 

open the folder. 

Find the compressed file 
or files you want to repair, 
right-click and drag them 
to the Recovered Files 
folder, and drop them 
in the folder. After you 
drop the files, a context menu appears, 
and you need to select Copy to dupli- 
cate the file. The original will remain 
untouched, letting you work with the 
copy. If a restore or repair operation 
goes awry, simply repeat the process 
to create a fresh copy and start over. 

Of course, you need software to re- 
cover the data, and the software you 
choose will vary depending on the file 
giving you trouble. Because you must 
follow the documentation provided 
with the software to the letter to re- 
cover the data, we can't provide in- 
structions on how to use these 
packages. Just make sure the software 
you purchase uses read-only tech- 
nology. This prevents the software 
from writing to a damaged file or drive 
and potentially overwriting a file. 

You can download one of many 
data recovery packages, such as 
FinalData 2.0 from Final Data ($79.95; 



118 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



__j Recovering Data 



www.finaldata.com) or GetDataBack 
from Runtime Software ($69 to $129; 
www.runtime.org). Download demo 
versions of any file recovery tools you 
find and test them to see if they are 
worth your money. Some let you re- 
cover a few files to prove that they 
work, which means that you can solve 
a minor problem for free. Just be sure 
to download a version of the software 
designed to work with both your op- 
erating system and the file system the 
hard drive uses, which will be FAT, 
FAT32, or NTFS. You can see what file 
system is installed by opening My 
Computer, right-clicking the hard 
drive icon, clicking Properties, and se- 
lecting the General tab. The informa- 
tion is listed in the File System entry. 

Compressed Drives 

If your entire hard drive is com- 
pressed and becomes damaged, you're 
in trouble. Fixing this sort of damage 
requires the right software, some extra 
hardware, and a lot of expertise. 

Unless you are comfortable working 
on your computer or don't mind the 
thought of losing everything on your 
hard drive, we recommend turning the 
drive over to a data recovery service. 

It's cheaper to fix the drive on your 
own, but also riskier. To fix the drive, 
you need access to a computer that has 
enough empty hard drive space to ac- 
commodate all the files you need to 
recover. Most of the data recovery soft- 
ware available for purchase cannot be 
installed to the drive that is damaged, 
so using your existing hard drive is out 
of the question. If you can't even get 
into Windows, it's a moot point 
anyway — you will need to connect the 
damaged drive to a different computer. 

Once you have access to the hard- 
ware we just described, you'll also 
need data recovery software to get at 
the damaged files. Some packages 
only fix individual files and not com- 
pressed drives, so make sure you read 
the product description carefully. 

The type of software you need varies 
based on the type of drive compression 



you use and the extent of the damage. 
Some software recovers Zip archives, 
and others rescue compressed drives. 
Whatever you purchase, make sure it 
works with your system and the types 
of files giving you trouble. Gibson 
Research Corporation's SpinRite v6.0 
($89; grc.com/sroverview.htm) has 
data recovery features and works with 
compressed drives, as does Total Recall 
Professional Services' VirtualLab 



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Download Express lets users pause and resume 
downloads, even if the connection is broken 
partway through the download process. 

(www.binarybiz.com/vlab). Virtual- 
Lab's cost varies depending on the 
amount of data recovered, with the 
first gigabyte costing $99.95 and addi- 
tional gigabytes costing $5 each. 

Once the software is installed on the 
working PC, transfer the damaged 
drive to that PC. Turn off the system 
with the problem drive, remove the 
case, and touch part of the PC's metal 
frame while it is still plugged in (and 
thereby grounded) to discharge any 
static electricity built up in your body. 

Disconnect both cables attached to 
the problem hard drive and remove 
the drive by taking out the screws se- 
curing it to the case or sliding it out 
on the rails attached to its sides. 
Note the way the drive is oriented 
when you remove it and never turn 
it upside down. Be extremely careful 
when handling the drive. If you drop 
it, the force of the drop will almost 
certainly damage its internal compo- 
nents or scratch the data platters, 
making repairs impossible. 

Look on the back of the drive for a 
small, plastic jumper block and on the 



bottom or back of the drive for a 
legend that explains what the various 
jumper settings do. The jumper block 
is a tiny piece of plastic used to connect 
two metal pins, so look for a row of 
pins on the back of the drive, and you'll 
eventually find the jumper block. 

You need to find the Slave setting 
and move the jumper block so the 
drive is in that configuration. Refer to 
the drive's manual, if there is one, to 
make certain you position the jumper 
block correctly and also note where 
the block was to begin with so you 
can replace it later. 

Take the drive from the working 
computer (which also should be pow- 
ered down), and connect it to the IDE 
(Integrated Drive Electronics) and 
power cables. (There's an extra IDE 
connection on the same cable attached 
to the hard drive already installed in 
the working computer.) Set it down in 
the same orientation it was in when 
you removed it from the original PC. 

You don't necessarily need to 
mount the drive with rails or 
screws — just put it on a stable sur- 
face, such as the bottom of the PC 
case. Turn the working computer 
on, and the new drive should show 
up under My Computer. Now run 
your data recovery software. 

If you buy a replacement drive and 
need to transfer your files to it, use the 
same process to attach it to the working 
computer that was outlined above. 
Remember that if you buy a new drive, 
it must be attached to the other com- 
puter as a primary drive and formatted, 
and Windows must be reinstalled. You 
can then attach the drive to the com- 
puter holding your recovered files, 
transfer them over, and reconnect the 
new drive to your original PC. 

Call the experts. If you aren't com- 
fortable rescuing a drive yourself or if 
the damage cannot be fixed using a 
simple software package, you may want 
to use a data recovery service to resur- 
rect your hard drive. There are certain 
circumstances where this is the only 
option. If the hard drive is physically 
damaged, experts must open it up and 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 119 



g) Recovering Data 



try to make repairs. They do this in a 
clean room so no stray dust particles 
settle on the data platters; therefore, 
such an operation is extremely expen- 
sive and somewhat risky, depending on 
the type of environment in which the 
data recovery specialists work. 

If your hard drive made a lot of 
strange noises before ceasing to func- 
tion, it likely sustained some physical 
damage and could cost anywhere from 
several hundred to several thousand 
dollars to fix. Even if the specialists can 
get to your data, don't expect that they 
will recover 100% of it if physical 
damage is the cause. 

Finding a specialist is fairly straight- 
forward. Just search the Internet (look 
for "data recovery") and look for a 
place that puts its policies up front in 
black and white. Google (www.google 
.com) is a good place to start. 

Don't expect any recovery guaran- 
tees from the repair companies but 



look for a place that won't charge you 
unless it actually recovers your files. 
Some want money just for looking at 
your drive. Don't forget to check pri- 
vacy policies closely. Respectable data 
recovery businesses won't pry into your 
files once they resuscitate your drive. 

Miscellaneous Troubleshooting 

If you have trouble with a com- 
pressed file you downloaded, right- 
click the file and select Properties to 
check its size. If the size looks unusually 
small, you may have only part of the 
file. Try downloading the file again. 
Partial downloads are common when 
users download compressed video or 
audio files. Consider installing a down- 
load manager such as Download 
Express (www.metaproducts.com) that 
can resume a broken download. 

Applications handle damaged files in 
different ways. Generally, if a Zip 



When Damaged Files Aren't 



Normally when data is 
compressed, all in- 
formation is retained, so 
it can be reconstituted 
in its entirety. Nobody 
wants a document that 
gets rid of random 
words just to increase 
compression ratios. 

Sometimes com- 
pressed graphics, video, 
or audio files may appear 
damaged, but the reduc- 
tion in quality compared 
to the original is actually 
caused by a special type 
of algorithm called lossy 
compression. 

Lossy compression 
uses advanced algorithms 
based on scientific data 
regarding what human 
eyes and ears can perceive 
and eliminates anything 
deemed redundant. With 
images where portions 



of the picture have many 
shades of the same color 
(a blue sky, for instance), 
the compression algo- 
rithm decreases the 
number of unique shades 
so more pixels share ex- 
actly the same color and 
can thereby be repre- 
sented as a connected 
group when compressed. 
With video, colors are 
sometimes reduced in 
the same way, and pixels 
that don't change be- 
tween video frames (the 
background during a 
conversation scene, for 
example) are noted and 
not stored. With audio, 
information the ear can't 
detect is discarded, and 
other blending tech- 
niques are used to signifi- 
cantly reduce the 
amount of data in the file. 



As a rule compressed 
multimedia files lose 
quality as compression 
levels go up. Audio be- 
comes hollow and tinny, 
while pictures and video 
lose detail, and colors be- 
come blotchy. If this 
bothers you, try recom- 
pressing the data using 
either a nonlossy algo- 
rithm or a lossy algorithm 
with a lower compression 
ratio. Most audio, video, 
and image-editing soft- 
ware have sliders that 
let you choose between 
quality and more effec- 
tive compression. Move 
the sliders toward the 
quality end of the spec- 
trum to retain more 
original data while still 
saving space. I 



archive is damaged, decompression 
software can't work with the file at all. 

With compressed audio, a player 
usually processes the audio flawlessly 
until it reaches the end of the partial 
file. Because music and video are stored 
in a linear fashion, the files play from 
the beginning until the end. If you ever 
download an audio or video file that 
plays for a while and then stops, you'll 
need to download the complete file to 
hear or view the entire clip. 

Obviously, PC users who rely on file 
compression need to do everything in 
their power to avoid damaging com- 
pressed files in the first place. Keep 
your compressed files separate from 
others. If you run short on disk space 
and feel the need to compress your 
hard drive, consider investing in a 
second hard drive, a DVD-recordable 
drive, or some other form of storage 
instead. Compressing an entire drive 
significantly reduces overall PC perfor- 
mance because your data must be de- 
compressed before it is processed (then 
compressed again), and the perfor- 
mance hit generally isn't worth the 
extra hard drive space you get. 

Head Off Trouble 

Compress only individual files or 
individual folders if they don't con- 
tain much critical data. 

When you lump a bunch of files to- 
gether into a single compressed file, 
you risk losing them all if that file gets 
damaged. Keep them separate, so if one 
gets damaged, the others are unaf- 
fected. Back up compressed files the 
same way you back up your regular 
data. Always check to see if you can 
open a new compressed file before 
deleting the original fde. Finally, if you 
compress important data, never delete 
the original files. Store them on CD- 
RWs in their original format. 

Think of compression as a space- 
saving tool for backups, not as a file 
replacement tool to free huge amounts 
of space on your hard drive. [Ss] 

by Tracy Baker 



120 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



g) Recovering Data 



Password 
Recovery 

A Missing Password Doesn't Mean All Is Lost 



It happens to every PC 
user eventually: You at- 
tempt to open a pass- 
word-protected file or go to 
check your email online, and 
when it comes time to enter 
the password, you draw a 
blank. After frantically typing 
every permutation of every 
password you've ever used, 
you give up in frustration. 
The password, and the data it 
was protecting, is lost. 

Or is it? The answer de- 
pends on the type of data you 
try to access and the pro- 
grams used to secure it, 
among other factors. Under 
the right circumstances, by- 
passing a password takes al- 
most no effort at all, and 
you'll be able to recover your 
data. Under the wrong circumstances, 
cracking a password is impossible. 

Unlock Data Files 

If you created the file you need access 
to with a common office suite and pass- 
word-protected it using the tools that 
come with that suite, you're in good 
shape. In Microsoft Office 2003, for ex- 
ample, you can click Tools, Options, 
and the Security tab, and then set up 
passwords for any document. The good 
news: This keeps casual snoops out of 
your files. The bad news: Anyone who 
really wants to can crack the password 
scheme Office and other suites use. 
Literally dozens of programs exist that 
can cut through one of these passwords 
like a hot knife through butter. 




The program you use to break or 
uncover a password will vary de- 
pending on the program that created it. 
Windows login, the individual applica- 
tions in office suites, and compression 
utilities all have unique ways of storing 
passwords and must be tackled using 
different approaches. 

Although password recovery pro- 
grams use various algorithms and tech- 
nologies to perform searches faster, 
most rely on dictionary or brute force 
attacks. Dictionary attacks are simple 
and fast, as they simply run through 
every word in the dictionary trying to 
find a match. The best programs let you 
add words to the dictionary and also 
add elements to the search, such as in- 
corporating typos, trying words typed 
in reverse (a common password tactic), 



and capitalizing one or all of each letter 
in turn. Each option you enable adds 
time to the search, but scans a far larger 
number of possibilities. 

Brute force attacks are the simplest 
and just try every possible combination 
of letters, numbers, symbols, or what- 
ever other variables are included until 
they find a match. You could get lucky 
and find the password on the first at- 
tempt, or end up waiting weeks or 
months for every possible 
combination to play out (de- 
pending on the speed of your 
PC and the total number of 
combinations). The best 
password recovery apps let 
you add a few variables to 
narrow the search. For ex- 
ample, if you remember that 
the password begins with or 
contains a particular letter or 
symbol, a good password re- 
covery application lets you 
enter that data to save a lot of 
time in finding a match. We 
protected a compressed ZIP 
file using testtest as the pass- 
word, and even after telling 
the password recovery soft- 
ware that the password con- 
tained only eight letters (with 
no numbers or symbols), it 
took nearly six and a half 
hours to recover the password with the 
2.66GHz CPU in our test machine run- 
ning at 100% the entire time. When we 
told the software that the password 
began with the letter T, the brute force 
attack took only about four minutes. 
(Finding a four-letter password using 
the same PC took only a few seconds.) 

Use the fastest PC you can access 
when recovering passwords and don't 
expect to use it for much of anything 
else until the search is complete because 
to operate at its fastest speed the pro- 
gram needs exclusive access to all of 
your PC's resources. Budget plenty of 
time to run these apps and give them all 
the information to work with that you 
can. If you know you didn't use symbols 
in the password, make sure the program 
doesn't waste time looking for them. If 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 121 



g Recovering Data 



Select & Store Passwords 



Selecting a good password involves a bit of irony. You want to choose something 
you'll easily remember and that nobody else will easily guess; the two are mutu- 
ally exclusive. 

Single words found in a dictionary constitute the weakest passwords. Even the 
lamest password-cracking programs barrage your password protection with dictio- 
nary words hoping for a match and cracking the code in seconds. Stay away from 
movie, book, and other quotes, as password crackers routinely check for these. 

Never forget that the people most interested in your data are likely the people 
closest to you who know more about your likes, dislikes, and habits than a random 
hacker. For this reason rule out passwords with personal associations. Hobby- or 
career-related phrases, pet names, or your birthday in reverse are all poor choices. 

Plenty of programs can help you generate a secure password, but you can create 
solid passwords without using a crutch if you follow a few simple rules. For one, a safe 
password strings several words together. Passwords created from multiple words are 
called passphrases and are incredibly secure because brute force attacks must go 
through endless combinations to achieve a lucky match. 

To make a passphrase even more secure, add some numbers, symbols, and spaces 
into the mix. Use tricks such as replacing every occurrence of an individual letter with 
a symbol (substitute % for A), putting double spaces between words, writing in pig 
latin or a foreign language, mixing lowercase and uppercase letters, and incorporating 
any other abnormalities that people would never guess. Both password-cracking pro- 
grams and people trying to get at your data rely on common rules and assumptions 
when guessing passwords. Break those rules and make their job tougher. 

You must maintain as many separate passwords as possible, or at least keep your 
online passwords separate from passwords that protect the data on your PC. Several 
excellent password-management programs let you store all of your passwords in a 
password-protected, encrypted file. That way you need to remember only one pass- 
word to access all your others. Several excellent free options are available, including 
KeyWallet (www.keywallet.com), Oubliette (www.tranglos.com/free), and Access 
Manager (www.accessmanager.co.uk). I 



you remember the first few letters the 
password starts with, supply them if 
possible. Each bit of data you plug into 
the software narrows its search, signifi- 
cantly reducing the amount of time it 
takes to pinpoint the password. 

Recovery Software 

If you have trouble logging into 
Windows or dialing your ISP (Internet 
service provider) because you lost the 
password, download 123 WASP, a free- 
ware program from iOpus (www.iopus 
.com/wasp. htm). WASP stands for 
Write All Stored Passwords, and it 
reads your Windows password files 
(with the extension .PWL) and lists any 
passwords it finds. The program found 



our Windows login password, dial-up 
password, and a few online passwords 
in no time. It doesn't get much easier 
than this, but 123 WASP doesn't work 
on application files or most Web-re- 
lated passwords, so you need different 
utilities to crack those codes. 

To open password-protected ZIP 
archives, consider ZIP Password Finder 
from Astonsoft (www.astonsoft.com). 
The freeware utility worked extremely 
well in our tests, provided we could 
give it a few clues about the missing 
password. Just fill in all the blanks 
you can, feed it a Zip file, and watch it 
go. The program includes an esti- 
mated-countdown timer so you can 
decide whether cracking your pass- 
word is feasible. 



If you don't mind spending a little 
money, we got faster results from VDG 
Software's $45 shareware program, 
Ultimate ZIP Cracker (www.vdgsoft 
ware.com). Its exceptional Wizard- 
based interface walks users through 
every step of the process and uses ad- 
vanced algorithms to crack passwords 
much more quickly than simple brute 
force attacks would. Better still, the 
same tool now cracks Microsoft Word 
and Excel files, and you can use the 
demo to retrieve your password before 
you pay to reveal the password. So, if 
the program fails, you lose only time. 

Although many password recovery 
services offer expensive kits capable of 
cracking files from any office applica- 
tion, some also offer less expensive 
modules that only crack files from indi- 
vidual programs. For example, Pass- 
ware has a complete $355 Passware Kit 
(www.lostpassword.com/kit.htm) that 
cracks Office, Quicken, Money, Word- 
Perfect, WordPro, and other files, or 
you can order modules for any of these 
applications for $45. We tested the full 
kit extensively, and it is fast, full-fea- 
tured, and highly configurable. Other 
companies to look into include Elcom- 
Soft (www.elcomsoft.com) and Last Bit 
Software (www.lastbit.com). 

Always download a demo, if possible, 
to see if the software can even crack 
your password. 

Unlock Online Accounts 

Most Web sites have policies stipu- 
lating that the company will email you 
your password once you prove your 
identity. When you sign up for an on- 
line account, don't take the security op- 
tions lightly. If the account signup asks 
you to answer a question (such as 
"What is your favorite color?") in the 
security settings options, generally you 
must supply that answer later to estab- 
lish your identity and recover your 
password. Look for links such as Lost 
Your Password? or Password Lookup 
on the login page of the site you are 
trying to access and click the link to 
start the password recovery procedure. 



122 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



I Recovering Data 



For online use, create a separate set 
of passwords. Don't use passwords that 
protect the data stored directly on your 
PC; otherwise, unscrupulous folks can 
retrieve one of your online passwords 
and get into your other protected files. 

In some cases, you need only a few 
pieces of publicly available informa- 
tion. Most online companies and ser- 
vices require only the email address 
you provided when you set up the ac- 
count. They then email your login and 
password information to that account. 

This adds a measure of security be- 
cause would-be password thieves need 
access to your email account to read 
the password. Unfortunately, people in 
your home or office can access your 
computer, read the password email, 
and delete all traces of their activity be- 
fore you even know what happened. 

To head off this problem, set up a 
special account at a free email service, 
such as Hotmail (www.hotmail.com) 
or Yahoo! Mail (mail.yahoo.com). If 
you already use these services, create a 
separate account with an email address 
you can easily remember and that you 
never provide to others. When you sign 
up for online services and they ask 
where you'd like them to email your 
password, provide this new email ad- 
dress instead of the accounts you nor- 
mally use at home or work. 

Some services don't accept Web- 
based email addresses, only addresses 
from businesses and ISPs because they 
want to cut down on people signing up 
under several different names. If that's 
the case, contact your ISP to see if its 
services include multiple email ad- 
dresses for a single account. Most do; 
just follow the ISP's instructions to set 
up a separate account you can use for 
password recovery if disaster strikes. 

Another option is to provide your 
home email address when you sign up 
for sites that you plan to use at work 
and your work email address for sites 
that you plan to access at home. The 
online account is preferable, however, 
because you can keep it secret and ac- 
cess it from work and home with 
equal ease. 



Check For Spelling Errors 

Here's the scenario: Normally a pass- 
word dialog box pops up that already 
contains your login name and a row of 
asterisks in the password box to repre- 
sent your password. One day, the box 
pops up without the password filled in. 
You retype it (clicking the checkbox to 
store the password so you never have to 



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You can password-protect documents in Office, 
but doing so doesn't offer much protection. 



type it again), press ENTER, and receive 
a message that your password is invalid. 

Typos are often the cause of seem- 
ingly broken passwords, but most pass- 
word boxes replace the letters you type 
with asterisks, making it hard to tell if 
you typed it incorrectly to begin with. 

Fortunately, there are programs out 
there that convert these asterisks back 
to characters so users can see if they're 
mistyping their passwords. One of the 
best we tested is SnadBoy's Revelation 
2.0 (www.snadboy.com). Revelation 
2.0 lets users drag a cursor onto a pass- 
word box filled with asterisks and then 
displays in a separate window the text 
hidden beneath those asterisks. You 
then click a button to copy the revealed 
text, paste it into a document, and save 
it for future reference. It's easy, fast, 
and absolutely free. Life is good. 

A few other good freeware programs 
reveal the text hidden behind asterisks 



in pop-up boxes. Try Passware's free 
Asterisk Key (www.lostpassword.com 
/asterisk.htm) or NirSoft's free Asterisk 
Logger or AsteWin IE (www.nirsoft 
.net) if Revelation doesn't do the trick. 

All these programs also come in 
handy if you use the same password to 
access several Web sites. Normally, 
users enter a password once, select the 
option that lets the browser remember 
the password, and press ENTER when 
the password is automatically filled in 
on subsequent visits. As time passes, it's 
easy to forget the password you typed 
in the first place, and when something 
happens so the password isn't auto- 
matically filled in, you don't know 
what to type. If you were lax about se- 
curity and know of another site where 
you used the same password, head to 
that site, pray that asterisks appear in 
the password box, and use the software 
mentioned above to reveal the pass- 
word. Type the revealed password into 
the other site to get into your account. 

Turn To The Experts 

If all else fails and you really need to 
get to your data, you may need to hand 
the files over to data-recovery experts 
that specialize in password cracking. To 
find these services, go to the Google 
Web Directory (www.google.com), 
click More, click Directory, and click 
Computers. Click Security, click Prod- 
ucts And Tools, and click Password 
Recovery. Some of these services ask 
that you email them a copy of the 
locked file (always send a copy, never 
the original), while others use browser- 
based technology that lets you select 
the locked document, enter a credit 
card number, and wait as they crack 
your password. If you chose an ex- 
tremely good password, don't be sur- 
prised if they can't crack it. Sometimes 
too much security is self-defeating, and 
you just have to face the fact that the 
file is lost until future generations of 
super-fast computers can assail it. \ks\ 

by Tracy Baker 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 123 



jg Recovering Data 



Land Of The Lost 

Tips For Locating Misplaced Files 



Losing files on your PC 
is a lot like misplacing 
your car keys in a clut- 
tered apartment. You know 
the things you're looking for 
are close by, but actually 
finding and using them can 
be a challenge. 

Unlike your apartment, 
though, Windows has a help- 
ful feature that can locate 
wayward items and save you 
a good deal of frustration. In 
Windows 95/98 (Win9x), this 
feature is called Find. In 
Windows XP and Windows 
Me, it's called Search. There 
are also third-party programs 
that can ensure that you 
never have to endure the loss 
of an important file again. 

In this article, we'll show you one of 
the more popular ways to find lost files 
and some techniques to keep you from 
losing files in the future. We'll start by 
covering the Find feature in Win9x. 
The WinMe and WinXP version of this 
feature is significantly different and 
warrants a separate explanation. Note, 
however, that many of the tips in- 
cluded in the Win9x section apply to 
later versions, so don't skip ahead. 

Find It In Windows 95 & Windows 98 

There are two fast ways to access the 
Find feature in Win9x. One method is 
to click Start, point to Find, and click 
Files or Folders. Shortcut keys also 
work for this feature; press Windows-F 
to display the search program instantly. 
If you're certain a file is in a specific 
folder, don't use the Find feature from 
the Start menu; a faster way is to press 
the F3 key in Win9x (or CTRL-F in 
WinMe) when you're already at the 




right folder window or have the folder 
displayed in Windows Explorer. This 
will display the search window already 
set to search the current folder. 

Whatever technique you use to 
launch the Find utility, you end up 
with a dialog box named Find All Files. 
It has five menu options: File, Edit, 
View, Options, and Help. The Name & 
Location tab is the most commonly 
used area of the Find command, as it 
includes the Named and Look In text 
boxes. Win98 also has a Containing 
Text text box listed here. (In Win95 
this option is on the Advanced tab.) If 
you know the name of the file you 
want to locate, just type it in the 
Named text box, make sure the Look 
In path is directed at the correct drive 
location, and click Find Now. You'll 
know the search has started because the 
magnifying glass icon begins to move 
in circles. When the search is complete, 
matches appear in the results win- 
dow. This window shows all relevant 



information about the file, such as file 
name, type, size, location, and date 
modified. Remember that you don't 
have to let a search complete its exami- 
nation; click the Stop button to bring 
things to an immediate halt. This is es- 
pecially useful when you accidentally 
start a search over a gargan- 
tuan hard drive that takes sev- 
eral minutes to inspect. There 
are many variables that can 
help you narrow your searches 
and save time. If you're fairly 
certain of the folder in which a 
file is hiding, click Browse on 
the Name & Location tab and 
specify the correct folder. On 
the other hand, you might not 
have a clue as to which folder 
to look in; in that case click 
the Include Subfolders check- 
box to investigate a folder hi- 
erarchy from top to bottom. 
In all Windows versions, there 
are some other options that let 
you control the search. The 
Date and Advanced tabs in 
Win9x let you find files by 
type and size. The Containing 
Text text box lets you constrain results 
to those with specific phrases in 
them. In Win9x an Include Subfolders 
option lets you widen your search. (In 
WinMe click Advanced Options, 
which lets you Search Subfolders or 
look for file names using the Case 
Sensitive option.) 

Search Windows Me & Windows XP 

WinMe and WinXP have their own 
version of the Find command, called 
Search. To get started click Start, point 
to Search and click For Files Or 
Folders, or press Windows-F. You will 
see a Search Results dialog box that's 
laid out like a Web browser, complete 
with Back and Forward buttons. 

In WinMe type the name of the 
file you need in the Search For Files 
or Folders Named text box. The 
Containing Text option is listed just 
below, as are the various search op- 
tions, such as Date, Type, Size, and 



124 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



g) Recovering Data 



Advanced Options, all of which work 
similarly to Win9x. 

In WinXP you will need to select 
the type of file you are looking for be- 
fore you can begin a search. We rec- 
ommend selecting the All Files And 
Folders option because it will search 
your entire hard drive for the file. If 
that takes too long, the other options, 
such as Pictures, Music, or Video, will 
narrow the search parameters and 
likely make the search more efficient. 

Once you've outlined the parameters 
of your search, click Search Now or 
Search. After Windows completes a 
search, you can press F3 or CTRL-F to 
alternately shrink and enlarge the 
Search Results window, providing 
more (or less) information about se- 
lected files on the left side of the screen. 

Both operating systems have useful 
extras on the left side the Search 
Results window, including image file 
preview. In the past when you wanted 
to know what was in a mysterious 
graphics file (usually with a file name 
extension such as JPG, .BMP, or .TIF), 
you had to open the file with a separate 
program, which takes time. With 
WinXP and WinMe, you can use the 
Preview function instead. Just click the 
file, and a tiny version of the image ap- 
pears in the Search Results area. To see 
thumbnails in WinXP, from the View 
menu, click Thumbnails to make 
image thumbnails appear. 

If it takes too much time to complete 
searches, you may want to streamline 
the search process in WinXP by using 
the Indexing Service feature. With this 
feature, your computer will maintain 
an up-to-date list of the files on your 
hard drive, which makes subsequent 
filename searches much faster. 

To use the Indexing Service, in the 
Search Results window, click Change 
Preferences in the left pane. Click With 
Indexing Service and then click the Yes, 
Enable Indexing Service radio button. 
Click OK, and your PC will run the ser- 
vice when the computer is sitting idle. 

Find files with dates. If you don't 
find your files with an initial search or 
WinXP index searches, you might want 



to search for files by date. In Win9x 
from the Start menu, point to Find 
and then click Files Or Folders. In the 
Named Or text box, type *.xls (or 
*.doc, or whatever file type you most 
often use). Click the Date Or Date 
Modified tab and click Find All Files 
Created Or Modified. Click the During 
The Previous option and then adjust 
the number of days you'd like this 
search to work for. (A week is probably 
a good starting point.) 

You can do this in WinMe by click- 
ing the Date checkbox. Select Files 
Modified, Files Created, or Files Last 
Accessed from the drop-down menu. 
Then click the In The Last option, fol- 
lowed by the number of days you want 
the search to cover. 

In WinXP after you click All Files 
And Folders, you can enter part of the 
file name and then click When Was It 
Modified? to narrow your search to a 
range of dates. You can also use What 
Size Is It? and More Advanced Options 
to make searches more specific; you 
can even include hidden files in the 
search if you prefer. After you set the 
parameters in your OS, 
run the search by click- 
ing Find Now, Search 
Now, or Search. 

Saving a search. 
Once your PC com- 
pletes its file hunt, you 
may want to save your 
search settings to re- 
duce the amount of 
data entry you have to 
complete for your next 
complex search. After 
a search ends, from the 
File menu, click Save 
Search. This saves a 

shortcut on the Win- 

dows Desktop or a 
folder of your choice with a name that 
refers to the search. When you want to 
do a speedy search for commonly ac- 
cessed documents, just double-click the 
shortcut and the search parameters will 
load automatically. 

Win9x will also let you keep the re- 
sults of searches, plus the parameters 



that created those results. From the 
Options menu, click Save Results. To 
create a shortcut to these results, click 
Save Search from the File menu. 

More search options. More archaic 
computer skills also sometimes come 
in handy for searches, the best example 
of which is the use of older DOS com- 
mands to aid your search. The easiest 
to use is probably the asterisk symbol. 
It acts like a wildcard, standing in for at 
least one character in the name of the 
file or folder you want. For instance, if 
you know you want to find a file that 
ends in .INF but aren't sure what the 
first part of the file name is, you'd type 
*.INF, which instructs the search utility 
to display every file ending in .INF. 

The question mark is also useful; 
unlike the asterisk, it replaces only 
one character in a name. For ex- 
ample, entering Sysfile?.DOC would 
find every file with one character 
following the Sysfile name that ends 
with .DOC. The search variable can 
also be used together in flexible com- 
binations. For example, enter *dos?.* 
to locate file names with any filename 



tdit View Favours !>;:« Ht'a 

_J & Search -J Folde, 



I 41 m X m juil- 



SS 2] Sea 



~3 i>o°\ 



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Search Results 



J Siz.l Tn» 



Windows Me's Search feature works like the Find option in previous 
Windows versions but has some extra power under the hood. 



extension and that start with any 
number of characters, following by 
"dos," and then any single character. 

Searching by file type is another 
useful parameter. Select this option, 
and you'll see dozens of file types from 
which to choose. The best thing about 
this option is that file types aren't 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 125 



g) Recovering Data 



displayed with cryptic extensions. 
Instead, there's a short description of 
the type (an AOL email, for instance). 

Third-Party File Finders 

Windows' proprietary search fea- 
tures work quite well, especially in 
WinMe/XP, but they aren't the only 
way to find and organize your files. A 
number of third-party options are 
available that provide even more func- 
tionality than the Windows utility. 

Enfish Find. Enfish Find ($49.95; 
www.enfish.com) helps keep files and 
folders under control. In addition, it 
integrates some cool online capabilities. 



After a simple installation, Find 
creates an index of your system, in- 
cluding information on local drives, 
in your email databases, and in your 
Web browser's configurations. This 
index gives the program a foundation 
to let you work more quickly, from 
locating files to surfing the Internet. 

The Find home page is set up much 
like WinXP's Search function. You 
just type in the file name and, if you 
want, constrain the search to a certain 
file type. Find searches its indexed 
database and retrieves the informa- 
tion you're looking for. 

If you like, Find lets you narrow 
searches with additional parameters 



Find Hidden Files 



Finding lost files is a 
trying experience, 
but what happens if a 
file is intentionally 
being shielded from 
your eyes? There are 
certain files that 
Windows operating 
systems designate as 
hidden files. These files 
don't show up in a 
normal folder display 
or file search. Typically, 
these are crucial 
system files that 
should never be al- 
tered; if they are, a 
plague of system 
problems can result. 
Nonetheless, there are 
times when locating 
and manipulating 
hidden files 
is necessary. 

There is an easy way 
to make sure hidden 
files appear. If you're 
looking at a list of files 
in a folder view, click 
Details from the View 
menu. Then in 
Windows 95, from the 
View menu, click 



Options, and on the 
View tab, click the 
Show All Files option. 
In Windows 98, from 
the View menu, click 
Folder Options and 
then click the View 
tab. Double-click the 
Hidden Files And 
Folders option and 
click Show Hidden 
Files And Folders. In 
Windows Me, from 
the Tools menu click 
Folder Options. In the 
Folder Options dialog 
box, click the View 
tab. Double-click 
Hidden Files And 
Folders and click the 
Show Hidden Files 
And Folders option. 

In Windows XP, 
from the Tools menu 
click Folder Options, 
the View tab, and 
under Hidden Files 
And Folders, click the 
Show Hidden Files 
And Folders radio 
button. Clear the Hide 
Protected Operating 
System Files 



(Recommended) 
checkbox, and click 
Yes to confirm that 
you want to see these 
files. Also clear the 
Hide Extensions For 
Known File Types 
checkbox so that you 
will be able to see file- 
name extensions. 

Now that you can 
see the file, you can 
view its attributes. 
Right-click the hidden 
file's name and then 
click Properties. At 
the bottom of the 
Properties dialog box, 
you'll see a number of 
attributes listed. 
Clearing the Hidden 
and Read-Only check- 
boxes makes them 
show up in folder 
searches. Don't 
change the file's at- 
tributes unless you 
positively need to; 
otherwise, you might 
run into system prob- 
lems that make you 
wish those files had 
stayed out of sight. I 



using Filters, such as Type and Author. 
Select Type, and the drop-down menu 
next to it shows 10 general file types, 
from email messages to spreadsheets. 
Choosing Location lets you browse to 
the folder you want to examine, while 
choosing Date brings up an Outlook- 
style calendar that lets you easily con- 
figure a date-based search. 

The latest version of Find also in- 
cludes a feature called Trackers. 
Trackers make note of the criteria you 
use to find and filter the information 
stored on your computer. Every time 
you run a customized Tracker for cer- 
tain files, this feature hunts down all re- 
lated information on your PC. You can 
add and remove information from a 
Tracker to minimize processing times 
and keep things working smoothly. 

The program is easy to use and 
brings an added sense of order to your 
Windows environment. If you'd like 
some expanded search capabilities, 
along with some incredibly simple and 
powerful Web tools, give Find a try. 

Consider a retriever. Another pow- 
erful utility is 80-20 Retriever (www 
.80-20.com). It installs onto PCs run- 
ning Outlook 98 or later, and its ulti- 
mate purpose is to put an end to the 
chaos thousands of email messages 
and their file attachments cause. 

Retriever enables full-text searches of 
your ancient emails, and it locates them 
faster than Outlook can. It does this by 
categorizing your whole system, in- 
cluding any mapped network drives. As 
with Windows, you can save specific 
searches for later use. 

Lost & Finally Found 

Finding lost data isn't just a matter 
of luck. As we've noted, several pow- 
erful search tools are at your disposal. 
Learning to use these programs may 
take some experimentation, but in the 
end, being able to comfortably navi- 
gate your file system will save you bun- 
dles of time in the future and reduce 
your frustration level, as well. [Ss] 

by Nathan Chandler 



126 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



I Recovering Data 



Salvage 
Damaged Data 

Recovery Services 
Revive Your Ruined Hard Drive 



Nothing lasts forever; 
even hard drives even- 
tually die. Sure, their 
mechanical ingenuity may 
make them seem invincible, 
but these drives typically last a 
few years at most. And when 
they finally crash and burn, 
they do everything they can to 
drag your priceless data with 
them into oblivion. 

But hard drives (or the data 
on them) can sometimes be 
resurrected by data recovery 
services. These businesses em- 
ploy recovery technicians, the 
miracle workers of the com- 
puter world. Using high-tech 
labs, engineers have the exper- 
tise to draw out data from your 
worn out, burned up, fried 
drive and give new life to your crucial 
personal or business information. 
Before you find a service to recover 
your data, though, it's helpful to un- 
derstand exactly why hard drives fail. 

Why Drives Die 

Although hard drive innards are 
made mostly of metal, they are delicate 
and include moving pieces that wear 
out with age. They're also susceptible 
to the effects of fire, tornadoes, hurri- 
canes, and other mishaps. 

Hard drives work by magnetically 
reading and writing data to and from 
aluminum platters (hard disks) that 
spin at speeds that sometimes top 
10,000rpm (revolutions per minute). 
Each platter is coated with magnetic 




recording media; read/write heads are 
suspended just a few microns above the 
platters, accessing data in milliseconds. 

As you've probably concluded, whiz- 
zing platters and tiny heads don't make 
up the world's sturdiest contraption. 
One blow from your knee will do more 
than bring tears to your eyes; it could 
also easily send the heads skittering 
across the surface of the platters or 
cause any number of other mechanical 
or electrical problems. 

If you're lucky, there won't immedi- 
ately be any noticeable indication of 
damage, and the hard drive will con- 
tinue to function normally. But that in- 
stant of contact may have scraped off 
bits of magnetic material that will 
bounce around, causing more harm to 



the platters' surfaces. In the end, the 
drive runs out of available space, or 
those particles cause some sort of me- 
chanical failure, such as jamming the 
read/write heads with excessive debris. 

Why They Die (Part II) 

It usually takes more than a hard 
bump to ruin a hard drive, though. 
There are two primary causes behind 
hard drive issues severe enough to re- 
quire the attention of a data 
recovery service: user error 
and mechanical failure. 

User errors come in many 

forms. One you might not 

consider is a virus. Failing to 

regularly update your PC's 

virus definitions is asking 

for trouble. 

Another com- 
mon user error is 
improperly 
backing up a 
drive before 
making other 
low-level chang- 
es to the drive's data 
structure, such as parti- 
tion alterations or dual- 
boot settings. These users 
improperly back up their hard drive's 
contents, only to discover later that the 
backup doesn't work. 

John Christopher, a data recovery 
engineer at DriveSavers (www.drive 
savers.com), says one of the most chal- 
lenging aspects of data recovery is un- 
doing previous attempts to salvage the 
data. Because there are so many utility 
programs available, people believe that 
they can recover their data on their 
own and end up destroying the very di- 
rectory structure vital to data recovery. 
Mechanical errors are also frequent 
occurrences. It's not that drives are any 
less durable than they used to be, but 
that hard drives are becoming so com- 
monplace, that it's only natural more 
of them are failing. As drives improve 
in capacity and longevity, though, their 
finely honed technology sometimes 
hinders a data recovery attempt. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 127 



g) Recovering Data 



$ M 




If your PowerBook looks as if it was used to dredge the bottom of an Amazonian pond, chances are 
good you'll be calling a data recovery service. 



Chuck Roover, vice president at ECO 
Data Recovery (www.ecodatarecovery 
.com), says that part of the problem is 
that hard drives are basically the same 
size that they were seven or eight years 
ago. In the not-so-distant past, a 3.5- 
inch hard drive might have had a 
100MB capacity. Contemporary drives 
are the same size but have massive ca- 
pacities, up to as much as 400GB. 
These newer drives have lower error 
tolerances and greater data density, 
making your important Word file 
harder to recover. That means it takes a 
lot less damage to the media to gen- 
erate an unrecoverable situation. 

A drive may make strange noises for 
days or weeks before it finally crashes. 
There are mechanical reasons behind 
these awful sounds, as well. Roover de- 
tails an analogy that sheds some light 
on the cause of those sounds: 

When a hard drive is built, a servo 
pattern is ingrained on its platters' sur- 
faces. This pattern functions similarly 
to the groove in an old vinyl record; it 
lets the read/write heads of the hard 



drive track their progression across the 
surface of the disk. But you can't just 
pick up the heads and move them over 
a track and expect it to play like you 
could with a vinyl record; the heads 
must follow the entire servo pattern. 

So if something happens to that pat- 
tern, the drive is toast. The clicking 
sound is the inability of the drive heads 
to read that servo pattern, due to some 
sort of mechanical failure. A total read/ 
write head crash could also cause a 
sound if the heads are hitting the plat- 
ters of the drive. As you might imagine, 
you need to take quick action in these 
situations to preserve your data. 

Taking Action 

Quickly identifying an ailing drive 
may be crucial to saving what's left of 
the usable data on it. The foremost un- 
mistakable sign of trouble is that hor- 
rible sound coming from somewhere 
inside your computer's case. 

When you hear these awful hum- 
ming or grinding sounds, the drive is in 



imminent peril, and you should turn 
off the system immediately. 

Error messages may also tip you off 
to a dying drive. "Invalid Drive Specifi- 
cation," "Disk Boot Failure," or "Error 
Reading Fixed Disk" are three particu- 
larly ominous examples. There are other 
possible culprits behind these errors, but 
hard drive failure is the prime suspect. 

If the drive sounds like it's spinning 
but the BIOS (Basic Input/Output Sys- 
tem) isn't recognizing it, shut down the 
computer. If the computer is working 
somewhat normally but with a lot of 
strange glitches, back up your most im- 
portant data and call a professional. 

Many PC users own software utilities 
that claim to fix hard disk problems 
such as data fragmentation. Often these 
programs work without a hitch. But be- 
ware; programs profess disk-fixing ca- 
pabilities but often aren't equipped with 
some sort of "undo" option that lets 
you reverse the process if it isn't suc- 
cessful. Also be aware that using pow- 
erful utilities in complex OS (operating 
system) environments, such as network 
Windows versions and Unix, presents 
an entirely different set of challenges. 

A hard drive on a steep downward 
spiral means nothing short of intensive 
professional care will save it. If all of 
your efforts to restore your drive to 
working order are in vain, it's time to 
locate a data recovery service. 

Select A Service 

You wouldn't trust your car to just 
any mechanic, and you shouldn't count 
on just anyone to rescue your data. And 
while meeting a mechanic and shaking 
his hand can allay your fears of incom- 
petence, data recovery is often subject 
to the relative anonymity of the Web. A 
little research may help ease your mind. 

First, ensure that the company is 
vendor-certified, meaning that the se- 
curity seals can be broken without in- 
validating the warranty. So if your 
expensive hard drive conks out, the 
manufacturer is still obligated to re- 
place it, even though the drive was dis- 
mantled for data recovery. 



128 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



g) Recovering Data 



Be suspicious of shoddy-looking 
Web sites, but don't be suckered by a 
pretty one, either. Many self-titled 
computer gurus with fancy, flashy Web 
sites may only have a "lab" consisting 
of a TV tray in the corner of their 
garage. Call and speak with a represen- 
tative to get a feel for the company's 
level of professionalism. 

Some computer and drive makers 
recommend specific recovery services; 
trust the judgment of the people who 
created your hardware. Also, the Better 
Business Bureau's Web site (www.bbb 
.org) will let you research the back- 
ground of many online companies. No 
matter which service you select to re- 
cover your data, you can be sure the 
process won't be an inexpensive one. 

Salvation's Costs 

Data recovery doesn't come cheap. 
ECO charges $875 to recover a 40GB 
IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) 
hard drive. DriveSavers' average end- 
user fix costs at least $1,000, as well. 
Expedited service for customers pan- 
icked about getting data back as soon 
as possible costs significantly more; 
some companies offer 24-hour turn- 
around. Normal service may take any- 
where from several days to two weeks. 

Like automobile repairs, the costs of 
both labor and parts are figured into the 
grand total. Parts aren't cheap, espe- 
cially for older model drives. Worse yet, 
hard drive manufacturers are stingy 
about supplying individual components 
required to make specific repairs to a 
drive. That means the service must buy 
an entire brand-new drive for any re- 
covered data. (At the customer's insis- 
tence, the repaired drive may be used, 
but this is not recommended.) 

A new hard drive typically costs less 
than labor, however. The cost of labor 
should be your main consideration. 
Some companies charge upwards of 
$100 just to give you an estimate for 
data recovery, a steep initial invest- 
ment that virtually locks the customer 
into using the service, whether or not 
you agree with the estimate. 



Labor charges can fluctuate wildly 
from company to company; hourly fees 
for automotive repair are a common 
example. Locating a company that 
charges a flat fee may be a better bet, as 
you'll know the maximum charge up 
front. Either way, be sure to get a signed 
estimate before OK'ing any work. 

But what if even after crossing your 
fingers and promising complete repen- 
tance, your data is completely irretriev- 
able? In most cases you'll still pay a fee 
for the failed recovery attempt. Though 
this fee is but a fraction of the cost of a 
successfully recovered drive, the charge 
will likely run in excess of $100. If 
you're skeptical about the odds of data 
being recovered from your drive, shop 
for a "no data, no charge" policy, so 
you don't drop a load of cash just to 
confirm your darkest fears. 

Once you've located a service you 
feel comfortable using, it's time to 
make sure your drive gets there with- 
out incurring any extra damage. 

Pack It Up 

Shipping a drive across the country 
exposes it to innumerable threats. It 
could fall from a jet's cargo door to a 
concrete runway or be "accidentally" 
drop-kicked by an irritated package de- 
livery person. Here are some tips to 
minimize shipping risks to your al- 
ready wounded drive. 



First, keep all extraneous parts such 
as brackets, cables, and screws unless a 
technician instructs otherwise (and 
have an expert remove the drive in the 
first place if you don't know how). 
After removing the drive from your 
computer, immediately put it into an 
antistatic bag. In absence of such a bag, 
wrap the drive in aluminum foil. Find a 
sturdy box, suspend the drive inside 
using a few inches of foam pellets or 
cushy bubble wrap, and then tape it up 
using good-quality mailing tape. 

Don't be tempted to cut corners by 
using cheaper shipping boxes or bags; 
pack up your drive as if it were as deli- 
cate as an eggshell. Lastly, select air ser- 
vice through UPS or FedEx. Although 
this is a more costly way to ship, your 
package will get there sooner and expe- 
rience less handling, and you'll be able 
to track its progress. 

The moment of truth arrives when 
your drive reaches a data recovery ser- 
vice; either your data is salvageable, or 
it's not. Different services address a 
newly arrived drive differently. To give 
you an idea of what happens to your 
valuable hardware, we documented a 
few of the processes used by ECO Data 
Recovery and DriveSavers. 

The Clean Room 

First, the technician addresses elec- 
trical and mechanical issues with the 



Let's hope your hard 
drive doesn't end up 
encased in a tomb of 
melted plastic. If it does, 
perhaps DriveSavers will 
be able to retrieve your 
data as they did for this 
fire victim. 




Reference Series / Working With PC Files 129 



g) Recovering Data 



DriveSavers managed to retrieve 
data from this computer, which 
needed all the help it could 
get after being crushed 
by a car. 




drive, ensuring that the disk can be read 
sector for sector. This involves checking 
the circuit board and internal workings 
of the disk. If the initial examination re- 
veals that a drive has mechanical prob- 
lems, a technician must repair the drive 
before recovery continues. That means 
opening the hermetically sealed enclo- 
sure that keeps microscopic contami- 
nants out of the drive. 

To do this technicians work in a con- 
trolled environment known as a clean 
room, sealed off from airborne dust 
and other particulate matter. Techs in 
the room wear special suits and gloves 
to avoid introducing contaminants. 

In these rooms the drives are disas- 
sembled and, says Christopher, rebuilt 
"to the point where we can retrieve the 
data." This work is not intended to 
make the drive fully functional for the 
PC again. Instead, the drive is restored 
just enough to siphon data off of it. The 
technician then makes a few micro-fine 
adjustments. This tweaking is a matter 
of trial and error, and therefore the 
technician's experience is paramount to 
making the drive work properly. 

Roover says that although this meth- 
od is possible with a single-platter drive, 
with multiple-platter drives the exact 
alignment needed for proper data re- 
covery is unfeasible, even if done by a 
trained technician. 



Customers also often ask Roover to 
insert new parts to read a drive with a 
damaged platter. He says a tech could 
install new heads into the drive and ex- 
pect them to read all the way around 
the damaged area in only about 1% of 
cases. As drive capacities increase, such 
a feat becomes even less practical. On 
the other hand, there are drives that 
come in with an undamaged platter but 
nonworking heads. If the drive is other- 
wise in good condition, the heads can 
be replaced and data can be retrieved. 

Replacing and repairing physical 
parts in a clean room is only one small 
part of data recovery. Once the drive is 
mechanically and electrically stable 
enough, the technician begins cloning it. 

Mine A Clone 

Cloning is copying a drive's entire 
contents to a another hard drive. This 
can be done by hooking up the original 
and clone drive to one PC and using 
special software to make the copy, or 
with the aid of commercial machines 
that permit disk-to-disk copying. 

Data recovery efforts then proceed 
on the clone drive, rather than on the 
customer's drive. According to Roover 
this has a twofold advantage. First, if 
the drive is on its last legs, the recovery 
technician may only have one shot at 



getting a copy of the data. Second, if 
the operator makes an error during the 
recovery process, he has the luxury of 
being able to go back and try again. 

At ECO the data on the cloned drive 
is then inspected for integrity, in 512- 
byte chunks. This determines if the data 
is structurally complete or incomplete 
and begins with the disk's first sector, 
which indicates the disk's parameters, 
where the next partition starts (if there 
is another partition on the disk), and 
other crucial information. The tech 
plays a virtual game of hopscotch, skip- 
ping from one important area of the 
disk to another. If one of those areas is 
missing, the data isn't totally sound. 

If the root directory is intact and the 
data seems to be functioning normally, 
the tech starts the OS. When Windows 
starts up, it will usually try to run 
ScanDisk to make repairs to the disk; 
the tech prevents this and then explores 
the data on the disk using the OS. If the 
drive isn't accessing data properly, the 
technician tries to determine which of 
the available 75 to 100 software and 
hardware tools to employ to extract the 
data. Then, with painstaking care, the 
technician repairs the structure of the 
disk's data, working on the informa- 
tion the customer values most first. 
Once this is completed, ECO transfers 
the restored data to a master server. 

The company burns the data to a 
CD or DVD, replacement hard drive, 
or other media, which it ships off to a 
relieved customer. ECO also retains a 
copy of the data for 15 days in case the 
customer's copy is damaged or lost. 

Recovery: Your Last Option. 

Data recovery is a booming business, 
in large part thanks to users who fail to 
take basic precautions with their data. 
Remember, these services are a poor 
substitute for the guaranteed security 
that good a backup provides. Spend 
more time safeguarding your data 
today, and you will spend a lot less 
money getting it back tomorrow. \n\ 

by Nathan Chandler 



130 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



g) Recovering Data 



Undo The 
Damage 

Recover Files From Floppy Diskettes 
& Optical Media 




When we think of data loss, we 
usually think of hard drive 
failure, virus attacks, or other 
problems within our computer systems. 
In fact, to protect ourselves from data 
loss, we save copies of files to removable 
media, such as floppy diskettes and 
recordable CDs or DVDs. However, 
even external storage media are vulner- 
able to failures that can render data un- 
readable. As we've mentioned elsewhere 
in this issue, the key to safely main- 
taining your data is to have more than 
one copy of every crucial file. Still, there 
are steps you can take to recover lost 
data from diskettes and discs. 

Risky Business 

When you select a form of remov- 
able media, you should know the data- 
loss risks associated with each. You're 
not likely to lose data in the same way 
on a floppy diskette as on a CD-R, 



for instance. Adequate 
protection for one type 
of media may not cov- 
er your bases with an- 
other type of media. 

Floppy diskettes. 
Because floppy disk- 
ettes have been around 
for so long, most of us 
have, at some time, lost 
a file stored on a disk. 
In fact, due to their 
design, floppies are 
highly susceptible to 
data loss. Although the 
outer material of a 
diskette is fairly sturdy 
hard plastic, the inside of the diskette 
is far more vulnerable. Floppies store 
data in a magnetic format, so if a disc 
comes into close proximity with a 
magnetic field, the data could easily be 
erased or corrupted. Also, because a 
floppy drive not only reads from but 
also writes to diskettes, unless you have 
locked the diskette, a bad disk drive 
could corrupt data already on the disk. 
The plastic casing around the 
diskette usually provides adequate pro- 
tection, but should any dust, moisture, 
mold, or other elements get inside the 
casing and onto the storage media it- 
self, the disk may not work properly. 

Optical discs. Optical media, such as 
CD-Rs and DVD±Rs, are also suscep- 
tible to data loss, but the ways in which 
you can lose your data are different 
from those in which you may lose 
floppy-stored data. The surface of CDs 
and DVDs are exposed. If you don't 
store your discs in jewel cases or 



protective sleeves, they may get 
scratched. Some discs sustain many 
scratches before they do not load or 
play properly. Others may have only a 
single but deep scratch that makes the 
disc unusable. 

Scratches are so deadly to discs be- 
cause the data is burned onto the sur- 
face of the disc. If there are scratches, 
the drive's laser may reflect off the 
scratches, directing the beam in the 
wrong directions or diffusing the pat- 
tern of light so that it does not reach 
the grooves containing the data. 

In addition to scratches, discs can 
also suffer from surface blemishes, 
such as tiny fingerprints, spills, 
smudges, or bits of dust. Once again, 
the problem is that the laser may not 
reflect off the disc's surface properly, 
resulting in bad readings from the disc. 

Even if you take good care of your 
discs, there is a good chance that, over 
time, the disc will degrade. Many of us 
archive files on CD and DVD, but 
there is growing evidence that some 
discs, particularly budget discs, have 
much shorter lives than originally 
thought. Discs may deteriorate over 
time due to a naturally occurring oxi- 
dation process. You may wish to make 
backups of your discs every year or 
two to ensure that you do not lose the 
data. To store critical data, you may 
wish to invest in costlier archival discs. 
For instance, Delkin Devices' Archival 
Gold CD-Rs ($17.99 for a 10-pack; 
www.delkin.com) are designed to hold 
up better against oxidation. 

Undo The Damage 

There are many ways you can get to 
the source of your problems and pos- 
sibly retrieve lost data. We'll look at 
diagnosis and recovery procedures for 
both floppies and optical discs. 

Floppy rescue. First, check to see if 
the floppy drive's access light is never 
lit, always lit, or only lit when your PC 
tries to access the drive. If the light is 
never lit, the drive's power cable may be 
loose. If the light is always on, the data 
cable is probably connected incorrectly. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 131 



g) Recovering Data 



Shut down and unplug your PC, then 
open the case to check the power and 
data cables. Make sure that one end of 
the data cable (the thick, flat ribbon 
cable) is connected securely to the 
motherboard and the other to the 
floppy drive. Also make sure that the 
cable coming from the power supply is 
plugged into the floppy drive. If you 
had noted that the access light was al- 
ways on, you will need to unplug the 
data cable from the back of the floppy 
drive, flip it over, and reconnect it. 

If you did not notice any abnormali- 
ties with the drive's access light, you do 
not need to open your PC's case yet. 
Instead, try inserting another diskette. 
If your PC can read this second disk- 
ette, the first disk is probably either 
damaged or corrupted. If your PC can't 
read the second diskette either, try in- 
serting each diskette in a second PC. If 
the diskettes work in the other PC, you 
can make a backup copy of the disk's 
files on that system. Then restart the 
PC and enter the BIOS (Basic Input/ 
Output System). Consult the users 
manual for your PC for specific in- 
structions on how to access the BIOS. 
You'll need to verify that the floppy 
diskette drive is enabled in the BIOS. 

You can often restore a corrupted 
diskette by formatting it, but the 
format will delete all data. A better ap- 
proach is to try file-restoration soft- 
ware, such as Symantec's Norton 
Utilities, which is part of Norton 
System Works ($69.95; www.symantec 
.com). Norton Utilities can often re- 
store corrupted data. To attempt a re- 
pair, first insert the floppy diskette. 
Then click Start, Programs, Acces- 
sories, Norton System Works, Utilities, 
and Disk Doctor. Next, select the 
floppy drive by deselecting the C: 
checkbox and then selecting the A: 
checkbox. You should also click the 
Automatically Fix Errors checkbox. 
Then click the Diagnose button. When 
an on-screen message indicates that the 
repair is complete, click the OK button. 

Another option is to clean the in- 
side of the disk. Pull back the protec- 
tive metal cover and examine the 



inside of the disk for fingerprints, 
mold, dust, spills, or debris. You can 
use a Q-tip and rubbing alcohol to 
very gently clean the surface. This 
may cause further damage, though, so 
use it as a last resort. 

Drastic disc situations. Before you 
do anything else when you encounter 
a problem with an optical disc, check 
your optical drive's documentation to 
ensure that it is compatible with the 
types of discs you're using. For in- 
stance, some drives read DVD-Rs but 
not DVD+Rs. 




Sometimes a disc drive doesn't work because 
the jumper configuration is wrong. 

Next, check the disc for finger- 
prints, spills, dust, or smudges by 
holding the disc up to the light. If a 
drive's laser beam hits dust, finger- 
prints, or other surface debris, it may 
reflect in the wrong direction and re- 
sult in read errors. 

You can try to clean a disc yourself, 
but because most discs have a protec- 
tive coating that may interact with cer- 
tain chemicals, you should only use 
cleaning solutions recommended by 
the disc manufacturer. Clean the disc 
using straight motions from the center 
of the disc outward. 

If the disc is not merely dirty but 
scratched, see if another PC can read 
it. Some optical drives have stronger 
lasers that are more forgiving of 
minor scratches. If the disc works in 
another PC's drive, copy the files so 
that you can move them to your PC. 

If no PC can read the disc, you can 
use a product that buffs the disc so that 
its scratches are not so deep. But if the 



disc is buffed too much, it may cut 
into the portion that contains data, 
causing irreversible damage. For this 
reason, scratch repair is a last resort. 
Some scratch removers include the 
Alera DVD/CD Disc Repair Plus 
($39.99; www.aleratec.com), Digi- 
tal Innovations SkipDR Motorized 
($49.99; www.digitalinnovations.com), 
and Memorex OptiFix Pro ($29.99; 
www.memorex.com). Each works dif- 
ferently, so follow the manufacturer's 
instructions carefully. 

If you can find no problem with 
the disc and no other discs work in 
your system, restart the PC and enter 
the BIOS. Make sure your optical 
drive is enabled and properly set as ei- 
ther Master or Slave. (Keep reading 
for more information about Master 
and Slave settings.) 

Next, shut down the PC, unplug it, 
and remove the cover from the case. 
Make sure the IDE (Integrated Drive 
Electronics) cable is connected to both 
the motherboard's IDE slot and to the 
disc drive. The colored edge of the 
cable should line up with Pin 1 of both 
slots. Pin 1 should be labeled on the de- 
vices or in their documentation. Also 
check the power cable's connection. 

Often optical drives fail because the 
jumpers are set wrong. If there is only 
one drive connected to the IDE cable, 
make sure the drive's jumper is set in 
the Master position. If there are two 
drives sharing a single IDE cable and 
the optical drive you're trying to use 
is the second drive of the series, the 
jumper must be in the Slave position. 
Jumper configurations are illustrated 
on either the back of the drive or in 
the drive's documentation. 

Working Condition 

Data loss is a very real threat, but 
there are many ways to prevent it. 
With careful diagnosis and recovery 
techniques it is even possible to restore 
many files you thought were lost. [S] 

by Kylee Dickey 



132 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



g) Recovering Data 



Condition Critical 

How To Recognize Files That Are Imperative 
To Your System 




There are literally thousands of 
files in your computer. Each time 
you install a new application, 
more files accumulate. Add the docu- 
ments, graphics, and Web pages in 
your system, and your PC manages a 
lot of files. Some files are left behind 
when you uninstall a program. The 
"dead" files typically aren't used by 
other programs, but they take up hard 
drive space. There are other files your 
system doesn't need, but distinguishing 
the critical files from the files you can 
delete can be difficult. Delete the wrong 
file, and you could damage your PC. 

We'll look at files you can safely 
delete and others you should avoid. 
We'll also provide some strategies and 
software for getting rid of files you 
don't need. 



Reasons To Delete 

The main reason to delete a file from 
your system is to free up hard drive 
space, especially for users using older 
systems with drives that have less than 
2GB of storage. Couple this with larger 
programs and suites, and every bit of 
free space becomes precious. 

Removing unneeded files can also 
improve your computer's perfor- 
mance and decrease the risk of system 
errors. For example, if two copies of 
the same system file exist in your 
system, they can conflict and possibly 
freeze or crash the system. 

It is tempting to just open Windows 
Explorer and start deleting files, but 
this can be dangerous. If you zap a file 
that Windows or another app needs, 
the program or OS (operating system) 



may not start properly, if at all. You 
may have to reinstall your OS to fix the 
problem. And if you delete the only 
copy of a vital document, re-creating it 
is usually difficult, if not impossible. 

Indiscriminately deleting files can 
also cause problems with the Windows 
Registry. The Registry is a database that 
stores valuable information, such as 
software configurations, system config- 
urations, and user preferences. Many 
programs add information to the 
Registry when they install. The more 
software you install, the larger the 
Registry grows. Windows constantly 
reads the Registry, and having useless 
entries in it slows down the process. 

System Files 

For an OS to work smoothly with 
applications, several types of system 
files are required. Arguably, the 
most important system files are DLL 
(dynamic-link library) files. DLLs are 
separate from programs but contain 
subroutines that give programs extra 
functionality. Windows loads DLLs 
into memory when a program starts 
and creates a link between the applica- 
tion and DLLs. Windows and other 
programs need DLLs to run properly, 
so don't delete these files or you'll 
damage Windows and other programs. 

If a DLL has a duplicate, a good rule 
of thumb is to delete the older file or 
those files that aren't stored in the 
WINDOWS folder. If you find a dupli- 
cate DLL in a program's folder and 
want to delete it, back it up first. Later, 
if you try to start the program and get 
an error message that the program 
can't find a DLL, put the DLL back. 

Another system file you shouldn't 
delete is a driver file. Driver files 
typically have .DRV and .VXD ex- 
tensions. These files let an OS 
and applications communicate with 
peripherals, such as printers and 
scanners. Because drivers translate 
instructions between software and 
peripherals, deleting a driver file can 
cripple your PC's ability to commu- 
nicate with the associated device. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 133 



jg Recovering Data 



There are also various files that pro- 
vide configuration information and 
bits of functionality to Windows and 
applications when they start. One of 
the first files Windows and programs 
look for is an initialization (.INI) file. 
These fdes contain startup and configu- 
ration information, such as the colors 
and fonts to use and the location of 
supporting fdes. INI files are usually lo- 
cated in the main WINDOWS folder, 
but they may be in the same folder as 
the application that uses them. It's best 
to leave INI files where they are; 
deleting one can prevent the OS or ap- 
plications from starting properly. 

Although many applications use 
INI files, the Registry has taken over 
many functions of INI files. Registry- 
associated fdes have a .REG extension. 
Deleting these can cripple a program. 

With Windows 2000 and Windows 
Me, Microsoft introduced a new soft- 
ware installation method called 
Microsoft Installer Service, which aims 
to make it easier to install/uninstall ap- 
plications. Several third-party applica- 
tions bundle the installer, which 
Windows 95/98 (Win9x) and Win- 
dows NT can also use. Programs that 
use the installer have associated files 
with an .MSI extension. Without the 
MSI files, the applications won't work. 

Executables 

Program executables (files that start 
applications) have an .EXE extension. 
Deleting EXE files will leave your 
system unable to start apps. It's espe- 
cially important not to delete EXE 
files in the WINDOWS folder. When 
Windows starts, it loads several pro- 
grams into memory. Without the 
ability to start these applications, your 
OS won't function properly. 

Other EXE files you shouldn't delete 
are those used for uninstalling pro- 
grams. These are generally found 
in the WINDOWS folder with such 
names as Uninst.exe, Remove.exe, and 
Unwise.exe. Windows' Add/Remove 
Programs utility uses these executable 
files to uninstall programs. Without 



these files, uninstalling a program is 
nearly impossible. 

Documents 

Any files you create are generally 
safe to delete, including word pro- 
cessor documents, spreadsheets, text 
files, Web pages, and graphics. 
Extensions for these files are too many 
to list, but common ones include 
.TXT (text files), .DOC (Microsoft 



upforS3A1074D001 (C:) 



Disk Cleanup] Mote Options |^ 
Windows components 



Windows comp n , :j do not use. 



You can frsernoradisk i sb by .ranfi ■■■ J ing programs that 
you do not use. 



You can freer, re rem ving all but the 

most recent restore point 



I Clean u 



You can get rid of old Restore Points 
that are taking up megabytes of hard drive 
space using the Disk Cleanup utility in 
Windows XP. 

Word), .XLS (Excel spreadsheets), and 
.HTM or .HTML (Web pages). 

If you share your computer, re- 
member: If you didn't create the file, 
don't touch it. You may end up 
deleting the only copy. To avoid acci- 
dental deletions, back up your docu- 
ments to removable media, such as a 
CD-R (CD-recordable). Also consider 
uploading important files to an online 
storage site, such as Yahoo! Briefcase 
(briefcase.yahoo.com). 

Help Files 

Windows has more than 100 Help 
fdes. Most applications you install also 
include their own Help files. Chances 
are you won't use many of these Help 
files, and they aren't essential to op- 
erate the program. If you need more 



storage space, consider removing 
them. The drawback is that you'll 
probably need a particular Help file at 
some time. A better option is com- 
pressing the files to an archive using a 
program such as WinZip. 

There are two primary types of Help 
files. These have .HLP and .CHM ex- 
tensions. You can find OS-specific 
Help files in the WINDOWS\HELP 
folder. Help files may also be stored in 
a program's folder or subfolder named 
HELP. Some software developers create 
online Help sources using HTML 
(Hypertext Markup Language) files. 
These load into your Web browser 
when you request help in an applica- 
tion. Again, it's safe to delete these files 
but consider archiving them instead. 

You may also notice files with .CNT, 
.FTS, and .GID extensions in the same 
folder as your Help files. These are con- 
tents- and index-related files generated 
by Help files. You can delete these, but 
the files will usually reappear the next 
time you view a particular Help file. 

Restore Points 

Under Windows XP, each time you 
add new software or a driver to the OS, 
WinXP creates Restore Points, which 
are copies of WinXP's system settings 
created when software on your system 
changes. If an installation has a prob- 
lem, you can use System Restore to re- 
turn the system to the state it was in 
before the problem occurred. 

Restore Points are useful but can 
become incredibly large, reaching 
many megabytes in size. You can 
safely delete Restore Points manually 
or use WinXP's Disk Cleanup utility. 
To start Disk Cleanup, point to 
Accessories from the Programs menu, 
point to System Tools, and choose 
Disk Cleanup. Then click More 
Options, choose System Restore, and 
then Cleanup. Consider only keeping 
Restore Points less than three weeks 
old, as those that are older are prob- 
ably too out of date to be useful. 

If you upgraded to WinXP from a 
previous Windows version, you might 



134 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



__j Recovering Data 



find a pair of legacy files in your root 
(usually C:) directory named Autoexec 
.bat and Config.sys. These are used in 
older Windows versions to load drivers 
and set system parameters. They aren't 
used by WinXP, however, and are safe 
to delete. 

If you install a WinXP update from 
Microsoft, you may notice subfolders 
in the main WINDOWS folder with 
names such as SNTUNISTALL- 
Q306676$. These are folders con- 
taining the installation packages for 
the update files. You can safely delete 
these subfolders, but remember that 
once they're gone, you won't be able 
to remove any installed updates. 

Temporary Files 

To conserve memory for processing, 
many applications create temporary, 
or Temp, files. These typically have 
a .TMP extension or start with a 
tilde (~), such as Tempfile.tmp or 
-Tempfile.wrd. Apps write Temp files 
as they perform tasks for emergency 
backups when a program crashes. 

Although a program will usually 
delete Temp files when the program 
shuts down, this doesn't always 
happen. A Temp file can remain open 
if the program has bugs or crashes be- 
fore you can save the file. Temp files 
are written to the WINDOWS\TEMP 
folder. Often, especially in the case of a 
word processor, Temp files are located 
in the folder that contains the file. 

Temp files are safe to delete, espe- 
cially if the program that creates them 
is shut down. If not, Windows won't let 
you delete the file. The best way to re- 
move Temp files is to search for them. 
Click Start and select Search (in Win- 
XP). Choose For Files And Folders. In 
the Search By Any Or All The Criteria 
Below field, type *.tmp. Click Search. 
The Temp files found will appear in the 
right panel. Select the files you want to 
delete, right-click, and click Delete. 

Internet files are one type of Temp 
file many users overlook. When you 
visit a Web site, the pages you view 
and the graphics on those pages store 



General View File Types 



Von can apply ; : ' .::; '. ■■' .:i; or Tiles) that 

you are using ii : all lolders. 



Apply to All Folders | FlesetAII Folders 



Advanced settings: 

1^1 Display the Ml path in the address bar 
I I Display the full path in the title bar 

: : Mschf^l .<::tj::>h 

l'r°l Hidden files and folders 

© Do not show hidden files and folders 
::!":>* : :: : : ■ : . :; . :: ; -.. 

Hide extensions for known fih :, ; > 

: : ■ ' (Recommended] 

1 I Launch folder windows in a separate process 
lv"1 Remember each folder's view settings 

I I Restore previous folder windows at logon 
I I Show Control Pc' : - : outer 



'■' :■ ;■ ' ' . : 



i: 



The Folder Options dialog box accessible in 
Windows Explorer lets you turn off file 
protection in Windows, but you should do 
this only when necessary. 



in cache, an area on the hard drive the 
processor quickly accesses for informa- 
tion. These files can pile up over time. 

Deleting these files is something 
you should do regularly. To do this 
from your Web browser in IE, click 
the Tools menu and select Internet 
Options. On the General tab, click the 
Delete Files button in the Temporary 
Internet Files section. In the dialog box 
that appears, check Delete All Offline 
Content and click OK. In Netscape se- 
lect Preferences from the Edit menu. 
Expand the Advanced item, click 
Cache, and click Clear Disk Cache. 

Protect Yourself 

The best way to prevent deleting a 
necessary file is to store it where 
it isn't easily accessible. If you 
must delete files, consider using a tool 
that specializes in cleaning up files. 
Meanwhile, there are Windows tools 
available to help protect you. 

WinXP and Win2000 make pro- 
tecting files easier with WFP (Windows 
File Protection), which keeps copies of 
system files in a hidden folder. When a 
system file is deleted, WFP restores it 
the next time the OS starts. WFP only 
works with system files. 



With Win95 Microsoft imple- 
mented the Recycle Bin so that files 
didn't vanish if you deleted them. 
Files move to the Recycle Bin, where 
they stay until you empty the bin. 

To restore a file, open the Recycle 
Bin, right-click the file, and select 
Restore. The file is put back in the 
folder it came from. 

You should always use Add/Remove 
Programs to remove applications. Click 
Start, Settings, and Control Panel to 
find Add/Remove Programs. Double- 
click Add/Remove Programs, select the 
program to uninstall, and click Add 
/Remove. In Win2000 click the Change 
or Remove Programs button and select 
the program to delete. While the pro- 
gram uninstalls, Windows may display 
messages that state a file isn't in use and 
is safe to remove or the program you 
want to remove contains a file another 
program may be using. If the file isn't 
being used, dump it. If another pro- 
gram is using it, keep it. If you're in 
doubt, keep it. 

If you're still worried about safely 
deleting a file, try moving the file to an- 
other directory. If system performance 
suffers or an application doesn't run, 
put the file back. If nothing happens, 
delete the file. Also, check the file's date 
in Windows Explorer by right-clicking 
it and choosing Properties. If the date is 
older than six months, it's probably 
safe to delete the file. 

Tools To Use 

One popular third-party program 
for cleaning unwanted files is Mc- 
Afee's QuickClean ($39.99; www 
.mcafee.com/us). Other download- 
able apps include CloneSpy (free; 
www.clonespy.de/english) and Empty 
Temp Folders (free;www.danish- 
shareware.dk/soft/emptemp). 

Deleting files from your computer 
can be dangerous. With care and the 
right tools, however, you can clean the 
junk from your computer without per- 
manently damaging the system. HH 

by Scott Nesbitt 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 135 



jg Recovering Data 



Get It Back 

How To Recover A File You Just Deleted 



w 



hether you've only 
used computers for 
a few months or 
your first computer was an 
IBM PC you bought 20 years 
ago, you've probably inad- 
vertently deleted a file. And it 
was probably an important 
file. Murphy's Law guaran- 
tees it, right? Perhaps when 
this happened, you panicked. 
Maybe you began clicking 
and typing like mad, losing 
track of the steps you tried to 
recover the file. Then, you 
admitted failure and placed 
the blame squarely where 
you knew it belonged: on 
your computer. 

Although it might make 
you feel better to blame the computer 
and threaten it with a one-way trip 
out a 10th story window, you'll even- 
tually realize the blame for the acci- 
dental deletion problem probably 
resides with you, the user. This isn't a 
bad thing, though, because it means 
you also might have the power to fix 
the problem. 

If you accidentally delete a file in 
the future, or if you just deleted one a 
few minutes ago, the first thing you 
must do is not panic. Don't start 
clicking randomly. Instead, if you 
have a current backup copy of the 
file, calmly find the file on your 
backup media and reinstall it. 
Problem solved. 

If you haven't made a backup copy 
in a while, though, you can panic a 
little. (But only a little.) Depending 
on how long ago you deleted the file 
and what you've done on your com- 
puter in the interim, you still might 
have a good chance of recovering the 
file. The sooner you attempt calm, 



calculated file recovery efforts, the 
better your chances of success. First, 
take a deep breath. Then try these 
steps to potentially recover files 
you've inadvertently deleted. 

Undo It 

If you recently deleted the file, you 
are using Windows 95 or newer, and 
you haven't performed many other 
tasks on the PC after deleting the file, 
try undoing the deletion. In the pro- 
gram window from which you 
deleted the file, click the Edit menu. 
If you see an Undo Delete command 
available, click it to restore the 
deleted file. 

Depending on which tasks you per- 
formed since deleting the file, you 
might see another type of Undo com- 
mand, such as Undo Rename, under 
the Edit menu. If so, you might be 
able to click it and work backward 
through the various Undo commands 
to reach the Undo Delete command. 




If the Undo command is dimmed 
and unavailable, you'll have to try 
another step. 

Recycle Bin 

In Win95 and newer, you can use 
the Recycle Bin feature. Un- 
less you've changed the de- 
fault settings, every time you 
delete a file from your hard 
drive, the Windows OS (op- 
erating system) places it in 
the Recycle Bin, which, in 
essence, is a holding spot for 
deleted files. When you 
choose to delete a file, Win- 
dows marks it as deleted on 
the hard drive but doesn't 
remove it from your hard 
drive. Windows places the 
file name in the Recycle Bin, 
letting you access it later and 
restore it to your hard drive. 
To see whether a deleted 
file is still available through 
the Recycle Bin, double-click 
the Recycle Bin icon on your 
Desktop and look through the list of 
files there. If you find your file, click 
it. (To select multiple files, hold 
down the CTRL key while clicking 
each file.) Then click the File menu 
and the Restore command. (You can 
also right-click the file name and 
choose Restore from the pop-up 
menu to restore a single file quickly.) 
Windows will return the file to its 
original directory location on your 
hard drive. (If you've also deleted the 
original directory, Windows will re- 
create it first.) 

Any files deleted from your hard 
drive remain in the Recycle Bin and 
available for restoration until you 
empty it by right-clicking the Recycle 
Bin icon and choosing Empty Recycle 
Bin from the pop-up menu. Once you 
select that command, Windows will 
permanently remove all files marked 
for deletion from the hard drive. 
(Even the Undo command in the 
Recycle Bin window won't bring the 
files back.) 



136 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



I Recovering Data 



If you can't find your file in the 
Recycle Bin, it's possible you've by- 
passed this feature in Windows. 
Right-click the Recycle Bin icon and 
choose Properties from the pop-up 
menu. In the Recycle Bin Properties 
dialog box, click the Global tab. Make 
sure no check mark appears in the 
checkbox to the right of the Do Not 
Move Files To The Recycle Bin com- 
mand. (You still can manually bypass 
the Recycle Bin by right-clicking the 
file you want to delete and then 
holding down the SHIFT key while 
clicking the Delete command.) 

As an added layer of protection 
against accidental deletion of files, 
you might want to place a check mark 
in the Display Delete Confirmation 
Dialog checkbox. While activating 
this command can be a hassle (each 
time you delete a file, Windows will 
ask you to confirm your choice), it's a 
good guard against accidental dele- 
tions, such as when your 3-year-old 



Windows 3.x & DOS 



B 



oth Windows 3.x and DOS make 
use of the Recycle Bin's prede- 
cessor, the Undelete command. 

DOS. To activate the Undelete 
command, type undelete at the DOS 
prompt followed by the name of the 
file you want to recover, and then 
press the ENTER key. If you aren't 
sure of the name, type undelete / 
list at the DOS prompt and press 
ENTER to see a list of deleted files 
that DOS might be able to restore. 

Windows 3.x. Double-click the 
Program Manager icon and the 
Applications icon. Then double- 
click the Mwundel icon to start the 
Windows 3.x Undelete tool. You'll 
see a list of files that Windows 3.x 
might be able to recover. Click the 
file you want to try to recover and 
click Undelete. You'll have to type 
the first letter of the file before 
Windows 3.x will attempt to 
restore it. I 



son presses just the right keys to delete 
a file. With this command activated, 
he'd have to also press the ENTER key 
to complete the deletion. Click OK to 
save the changes you made. 

As a final note, files you delete 
from any removable media, such as a 
diskette or a CD-RW (CD-rewrite- 
able), don't travel to the Recycle Bin, 
even if you drag and drop them on 
the Recycle Bin icon. Instead, 
Windows immediately deletes such 
files. If you think you might change 
your mind about deleting a file from 
a removable media source, you'll 
first need to copy the file from the 
removable media to your hard drive 
and then delete the file from both 
locations. You can later try to use 
the Recycle Bin to restore the file to 
your hard drive. 

System Restore 

If you have the WinXP operating 
system, you might be able to use its 
System Restore feature to regain a lost 
file. System Restore can return your 
PC to a previous state a few minutes, 
hours, or days in the past. 

Microsoft designed System Restore 
for users whose systems aren't 
working properly after installing new 
software or after changing some 
system settings. System Restore helps 
these users return their systems to a 
previous state where it was running 
properly. System Restore sometimes 
can help you regain access to a deleted 
or lost file, too, though. 

System Restore only restores ap- 
plication files and system files, such 
as EXE, COM, and SYS files. It typi- 
cally doesn't restore standard docu- 
ment files, such as DOC and XLS 
files. Using System Restore to try to 
recover lost files is a hit-and-miss 
prospect. (You'll probably want to 
make a backup copy of your key files 
before running System Restore.) 

To run System Restore, click the 
Start button, All Programs, Acces- 
sories, System Tools, and System 
Restore. Select Restore My Computer 



To An Earlier Time, and select a time 
just before you lost the file. WinXP 
will then walk you through the re- 
mainder of the process. 

Find Feature 

Because many programs automati- 
cally save files as you're working, a 
copy of the file might be stored on your 
hard drive without your knowledge. 
For example, in Microsoft Word, you 
can click the Tools menu and Options 
followed by the Save tab to configure 
Word's automatic save feature. 

Usually, the software will store such 
files as temporary files (with a .TMP 
extension) or with an altered file 
name, meaning it might not be ob- 
vious to you that the file name you're 
looking at is a copy of your deleted file. 
These temporary files probably won't 
contain the last edited version of your 
file; instead, they probably will contain 
a portion of the file. Unfortunately, 
Windows usually clears out such .TMP 
files each time you reboot your com- 
puter, meaning you'll need to find and 
restore the file before the next time 
you reboot. The software itself could 
clear its temporary files when you close 
the program, too. 

In most versions of Windows, click 
the Start button and the Find com- 
mand to search your hard drive for 
any copies of the file you might not 
know about. In the Find dialog box, 
type the name of the file you want to 
find in the Named text box and click 
Find Now. Make sure to select My 
Computer in the Look In text box and 
make sure to mark the Include 
Subfolders checkbox before clicking 
Find Now to perform a thorough 
search. (In WinXP, click the Start 
button and Search. Then select All 
Files And Folders and type the name 
of the file before clicking Search.) 

To give yourself a better chance of 
finding the file, you might want to use 
wildcards. (In a text string, a wildcard 
represents all possible characters.) For 
example, if your file is named "letter 
for grandma.doc," you might want to 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 137 



g) Recovering Data 



type lett* in the Named text box to 
find all files that begin with lett and 
end with any set of characters (as rep- 
resented by the asterisk wildcard). 
This method will probably return 
many more results than if you 
searched for the exact file name, but it 
will give you a better chance of 
finding the file. 

Check Folders 

If using the Find dialog box doesn't 
yield a copy of your deleted file, try 
looking in the folder where you stored 
the original file. It might not resemble 
the original file name, though. In 
Word, for example, files often receive 
names such as "~WRL0003.tmp" or 
"~$tter for grandma.doc" when the 
program creates temporary copies. 

You could also look in the C: drive, 
the WINDOWS folder, and the 
TEMP folder for temporary files. 

Professional Help 

If you suspect a physical problem 
with your hard drive has caused the 
file to disappear, you may want to 
take your computer in for repair and 
data recovery. However, this can be 
an expensive proposition with no 
guarantee of success. If you deleted 
the file, and it doesn't seem to exist 
anywhere on your hard drive, 
chances are slim that the repair tech- 
nician will be able to help you. If, 
however, the file is on a damaged 
portion of the hard drive, a techni- 
cian might be able to rescue the data 
from the drive. 

Before trying this step, ask the tech- 
nician for an estimate on cost and an 
estimate on his chances of recovering 
the file. Then ask yourself whether the 
file in question is worth the cost. 



After-The-Fact Help 

If you haven't found your file by 
now, chances are it's gone. However, 
you can take steps to avoid an inad- 
vertent loss of a file the next time. 



Delete carefully. Don't delete files 
without considering the consequences. 
Even with all of the file-protection 
safeguards built into Windows, you 
can't always retrieve deleted files later. 

Use utilities. Certain software pack- 
ages, called utilities, can sometimes 
help Windows run more smoothly 
and lessen the chance of a system 
crash that could inadvertently corrupt 
or delete an open file. Some of the 
more common options are Norton 
SystemWorks 2005 from Symantec 
($49.95; www.symantec.com) and 
EasyRecovery from McAfee ($49.99; 
www.mcafee.com/us). Such utility 
software isn't for everyone, but it can 
give you some peace of mind. 

Watch for viruses. Certain viruses, 
which are rogue programs that cause 
annoyances or destroy data on your 
computer, could erase your personal 
data files or corrupt them. You should 
have antivirus scanning software run- 
ning on your PC at all times, especially 
if you're a frequent Internet user. For 
broadband Internet users, personal 
firewall software is a must, too. 

Tune up your hard drive. Make sure 
your hard drive is in top condition at 
all times by running ScanDisk, Disk 
Cleanup, and Disk Defragmenter, 
which are built-in Windows programs. 
These programs will help your hard 
drive run more efficiently and will 
catch potential problems on your hard 
drive before they cause a major loss of 
data. Click Start, Programs (or All 
Programs in WinXP), Accessories, and 
System Tools to gain access to 
these programs. You should 
run these programs at least 
monthly. 

Free hard drive space. The 
more free space your hard 
drive has, the better chance 
your deleted file will still be 
in the Recycle Bin when you 
attempt to recover it. If your 
hard drive is nearly full, 
Windows will permanently 
delete the oldest files from 
the Recycle Bin, as it needs 
additional hard drive space 



to save new files. Try to keep at least 
10% of your hard drive space free at 
all times. 

Make backups. How often have you 
heard that mantra? But a recent 
backup copy of your important data 
files is your best defense against acci- 
dental deletion of a file, period. You 
can make backups in a variety of 
ways: to a diskette, to a Zip disk, to a 
CD-RW, to another computer on 
your network, or even to a Web- 
based data storage area. 

If you're a WinXP user, you can use 
the operating system's Backup utility. 
(WinXP Home Edition users typically 
must install the Backup utility from 
the installation CD.) Click the Start 
button, All Programs, Accessories, 
System Tools, and Backup to start the 
Backup utility wizard. Just follow the 
directions for making a backup copy 
of the types of files you select. 

Taking All Precautions 

After-the-fact help won't help you 
recover that last-minute term paper 
the dog managed to delete by hitting 
the perfect series of keys while walking 
across the keyboard. However, it will 
help ensure that the next time Fido 
"helps" you with your computing, the 
results won't be so damaging ... to 
your files or to the physical well-being 
of the computer that resides in your 
lOth-story apartment. [H] 

by Kyle Schurman 



























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In some circumstances, WinXP's System Restore feature 
can help you recover an inadvertently deleted file. 



138 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



I Recovering Data 



Recover Your 
WebSites 



Find Your Past By Retracing 
Your Browser's History 



One day you're surfing the Web, 
following various links to var- 
ious sites, when you stumble 
across an amazing site. You consider 
adding it to your Favorites, but noting 
the site's catchy name, you think, 
"That's a name I can't forget." A few 
weeks later you're surfing the Web 
again, asking yourself, "What was the 
name of that amazing site again?" You 
check your Favorites, but it's not there. 
Don't fret; all isn't lost yet. There 
may be a way to get back to the site. 
Internet Explorer and Netscape, two of 
the most popular Web browsers today, 
keep a history, or running list, of Web 
pages you visit. We'll discuss how to 
tap into your browser's history. 

Internet Explorer 

IE6 is the latest version of Micro- 
soft's popular Web browser, although 
most features we'll discuss haven't 
changed much from IE5.5. To check 
your version, open IE, click the Help 
menu, and then click About Internet 
Explorer. If you want to install or up- 
grade to IE6, you can download it free 
at www.microsoft.com/windows/ie 
/default.mspx. Note that IE6 isn't com- 
patible with Windows 95 (Win95). 

To display the History pane in IE, 
click the History button just under 
the menu bar or press CTRL-H. The 
History pane will display to the left. 
By default, Web sites organize in 
folders based on the date you view 
them, such as Last Week, Today, 
Tuesday, and so on. 



Clicking a title displays 
folders representing the 
main pages of the Web 
sites visited that day or 
week. You can expand 
these folders by clicking 
them. For example, click- 
ing Today expands to 
show folders for all the 
sites you've visited today. 
Clicking a site's folder dis- 
plays the individual pages 
viewed at that site. Click- 
ing an individual page 
opens it in IE's main 
viewing area. You can 
open a page in a separate window by 
right-clicking it and choosing the 
Open In New Window option from 
the context menu that appears. 

To change the organization of the 
History pane, click the down arrow 
next to the View button on the 
History bar. A menu will give you op- 
tions for sorting By Date, By Site, By 
Most Visited, and By Order Visited 
Today. When you select an option, 
such as By Site, the hierarchy changes 
from folders based on dates to folders 
based on the site names or pages. 

If you can't recall the entire name 
of the amazing site you visited weeks 
ago, but you remember a portion of 
the name, the Search tool in History 
may be able to help. Click the Search 
button, type a few keywords in the 
Search For field, and click Search 
Now. When the Search Now button 
reactivates, the search is complete. If 
IE doesn't find a match, the results 



section remains empty. If Search does 
find results, click the site to open it in 
the current window or right-click it to 
open it in a separate window. 

You may find it helpful to configure 
History to control the number of days 
IE stores Web pages in its History. To 
do this, click the Tools menu and then 




Internet Options. In the Internet 
Options dialog box that displays, click 
the General tab. You should see a 
History section with a drop-down 
menu to set the number of days to 
keep pages in History. Select or type 
the appropriate number (up to 999), 
click Apply, and click OK. 

There's also a Clear History button 
on the General tab. This removes the 
sites from History, but it also clears the 
list of Web sites you have typed in the 
browser's Address field to go directly to 
a site. To clear the history, click the 
Clear History button. A dialog box will 
ask Are Your Sure You Want Windows 
To Delete Your History Of Visited 
Web Sites? If you click Yes, you won't 
be able to recover the sites in History. 

Netscape 

Netscape is an integrated application 
that includes tools for email, browsing, 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 139 



g) Recovering Data 



instant messaging, and more. The Web 
browser in Netscape is called Navi- 
gator. To upgrade to or try Netscape 
7.2, download it free at channels 
.netscape.com/ns/browsers/download 
.jsp. The following details how to dis- 
play, sort, search, configure, and clear 
your history of sites in Netscape 7.2. 

Netscape lets you display your his- 
tory of visited sites in a separate 
window. To do this, click History from 
the Go menu. You can also open 
History by pressing CTRL-H. Netscape 
includes a feature called My Sidebar 
that lets you customize the information 
in the left pane of the Netscape 
window. To display My Sidebar, click 
the View menu, point to Show/Hide, 
and click My Sidebar. If the History 
option is not already displayed in My 
Sidebar, click the Tabs arrow in the 
upper-right corner of the sidebar and 
click History. Netscape adds a 
History tab to My Sidebar. 

The size of the left pane is lim- 
ited, so consider opening History 
in a separate window rather than 
viewing your sites in My Sidebar. 
You can drag My Sidebar's right 
border to expand the view, but the 
space may be insufficient to display 
the history information you want. 

The Web sites in History are 
grouped in folders based on how 
long ago you viewed them. To ex- 
pand a folder, click the arrow to 
the folder's left. Secondary folders 
will appear. These are grouped ac- 
cording to the main pages of the 
Web sites. If you click the arrow next 
to a main page folder, it expands to 
display a list of the individual pages 
visited on that site. To open a specific 
page, double-click it. 

To make locating sites in History 
easier, you can sort the list of sites in a 
variety of ways. The sort options also 
correspond to columns you can in- 
clude in your Netscape History display. 
To customize the columns, click the 
down arrow to the right of the last 
column heading. You'll see options for 
Title, Location, Last Visited, First 
Visited, Hostname, Referrer, and Visit 



Count. Check the columns you want to 
include. After adding or removing 
columns, you can resize the width of 
the column by dragging the vertical bar 
that separates the column headings. 

To sort the History list, click one of 
the column headings. You can reverse 
the order by clicking the column 
heading again. In addition to clicking 
the column headings, you can access 
the options from History's View menu. 
And if you select Group By from the 
View menu, you can choose to group 
the History list by Day, Site, or None. 

When you manipulate the sort 
order, Netscape will retain the overall 
date folder hierarchy, which means 
sorting occurs within the date folders. 
In addition, some columns, such as 
First Visited and Visit Count, display 
information only when you view a list 
of individual pages. 




In Internet Explorer, you can choose how to display your 
history of visited Web sites by clicking the View button. 



You can search for a site in History 
from the History window, although 
the History tab in My Sidebar doesn't 
support this. To start press CTRL-H to 
open the History window. Click the 
Search History option from the Tools 
menu or press CTRL-F. The Find In 
History dialog box displays with a 
drop-down menu you can use to 
specify your search. In the first drop- 
down menu, choose to search by site 
titles or locations. In the second specify 
the condition for the search term(s). 
Next type your search term(s) and 
click Find. When the search completes, 



the Search Results window appears. If 
there are no matches, the window re- 
mains empty. If the list of results is 
lengthy, you can click the column 
headings to sort the contents of the 
Search Results window. 

To access Netscape's history config- 
uration settings, click Preferences from 
the Edit menu in the Netscape window 
(not from the History window). In the 
Preferences dialog box, expand 
Navigator and click History. In the 
Browsing History section, click the 
Remember Visited Pages box. Desig- 
nate a number of days and click OK. 

The Browsing History section of the 
History preferences dialog box also 
contains a button to clear your history. 
Click the Clear History button and all 
the pages you've visited will be re- 
moved. Netscape won't warn you be- 
fore it removes the pages, so be certain 
you want to delete them before 
you click the Clear History button. 

Other Options 

You may be able to locate a site 
you've visited during a current 
Web-browsing session in IE or 
Netscape by clicking the browser's 
Back button. Also, clicking the 
down arrow next to the Back 
button will display a list of sites 
you've visited in the current ses- 
sion. This makes it easy to jump 
back to a site without having to 
move through each page you've 
visited in between. 
If you typed a site's address in the 
Address bar in IE or the Location bar 
in Netscape during a recent session, 
you can display the entries by clicking 
the down arrow next to the bar. 



When Memory Fails 

The next time you run across a great 
site but forget to bookmark it, use your 
browser's History tool to find it. It's 
easy to use and probably more reliable 
than your memory. []■] 

by Carmen Carmack 



140 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



I Recovering Data 



Back Up A Bit 

Master Disaster With Backups 




We rely on computer data for 
everything today. Precious 
family photos, vacation 
videos, and your teenagers' favorite 
music are just some of the items 
tucked away on your PC's hard drive. 
There are also bits of personal infor- 
mation, such as Quicken/Money files, 
TurboTax records, emails, spread- 
sheets, Word documents, and more. 
Now just imagine what would happen 
if your computer failed tomorrow. 
What would you do if your critical 
data simply disappeared? 

Whether you're running a corpora- 
tion or a household, backups are un- 
doubtedly the best way to protect 
your important data. A backup is 
simply a copy of your data. It may be 
a copy of individual files that you're 
working on at the moment, a com- 
prehensive copy of your hard drive, 
or anything in between. Just what you 
back up, and how often, depends 
upon your particular needs. When 
trouble strikes, you can recover lost 



files from the backup and continue 
working with a minimum of fuss. 
Without a backup, your work, weeks 
or months in the making, disappears. 
Fortunately, you don't need a degree 
in computer science to master back- 
ups. Here, we'll show you how to 
master disaster with planned backups 
of your system. 

Learn The Lingo 

There are four backup types that you 
should understand: full, incremental, 
differential, and selective. A full backup 
is just that: a complete copy of your PC 
including the OS (operating system), 
device drivers, applications, utilities, 
and your data. A full backup takes the 
most time to make and restore. It also 
requires the most recordable media 
(such as CD-RWs or DVD±RWs), but 
it restores your system to the way it was 
when you made the backup. (You 
don't need to mess with hardware 
setup or individual applications.) 



Incremental and differential 

backups save only the files that have 
changed since the last time you 
backed up your data. However, in- 
cremental backups mark files that 
have changed, and differential back- 
ups don't. This means that differen- 
tial backups grow larger as time goes 
on, because they constantly include 
all files that have changed since the 
full backup. Incremental and differ- 
ential backups involve fewer files and 
are usually faster to make and re- 
store, but they don't involve backing 
up the entire system. 

The actual backup process is 
straightforward; you start with a full 
backup of the system and periodically 
make incremental backups as the 
system and its data changes. If your 
computer loses all its data, you replace 
the data by restoring the full backup 
first and then systematically adding 
each supplemental backup until the 
system "catches up" to its latest state. 
Even though newer media such as 
CD-R/RWs or DVD±R/RWs have 
largely replaced slow and expensive 
tape cartridges, most backup software 
still follows these traditional practices. 

A fourth type of backup is called 
selective backup, and here you pick 
and choose the folders and files that 
you want included in a given backup 
session. This gives you the flexibility 
to tailor a backup for your important 
work files but exclude other files, such 
as OS components or applications. 
The issue is space. A full backup saves 
everything but takes a lot of time and 
media. A selective backup is much 
quicker and uses far less media. 

Selective backups are increasingly 
popular today because most new PCs 
ship with a complete set of recovery 
discs — CDs or DVDs that contain the 
"drive image" of your system as it was 
shipped from the factory. Many folks 
forgo full or incremental backups, in- 
stead opting for selective backups of 
their daily work or other critical data 
files. When disaster strikes, they can 
simply restore their system to its "fac- 
tory fresh" state using the system's 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 141 



§) Recovering Data 



recovery discs, then reinstall each im- 
portant application from their original 
CDs, and finally, recover their work 
files from the most recent backup. 

As you might suspect, relying on re- 
covery discs and original software in- 
stallation media does not restore the 
countless driver updates, patches, and 
configuration changes that set up your 
PC exactly the way you wanted it. This 
may not trouble occasional PC users 
that only work with a few popular 
programs, but PC owners that work 
hard to configure and optimize their 
systems may get better results from a 
more traditional backup scheme. 

Startup Media 

Creating a backup is fairly straight- 
forward, but restoring that backup 
can present some problems. You 
can't just pop in a tape or disc and 
magically restore your system: It's 
still a PC that needs an operating 
system and software. In the old 
days, this often meant reinstalling 
the operating system and back- 
up software first (along with any 
drivers needed to operate the back- 
up drive) before you could even 
restore your backup. 

Today's backup tools are getting 
more intelligent, and many backup 
products will let you create boot- 
able media, called a startup disk. In 
some cases, the bootable media 
will be a separate diskette, CD, or 
DVD. In other cases, you can 
make the backup media itself 
bootable. Regardless, the idea is to 
boot the PC and launch a utility 
that will read and restore your 
backup(s) without the hassle of 
full-blown OS and backup soft- 
ware installation. When creating a 
full backup, always be sure you 
know how to use your backup 
product's recovery features. 

Tools Of The Trade 

Backups require some sort of 
data-recording hardware, so you 



need to have a drive that is suited to 
the type of backups that you want to 
perform. The choices today for 
everyday PC users are CD, DVD, and 
hard drive products. Tape drives are 
still out there, but they are costly and 
slow, and are almost universally over- 
whelmed by current drive offerings. 

CD drives. CD-RW (CD-rewrite- 
able) drives are standard equipment 
on even entry-level PCs. Fast CD-RW 
drives can write at speeds in excess of 
40X (6MBps) and can rewrite data at 
32X (4.8MBps). Because CDs are 
"random access" media, you can ac- 
cess individual files in just moments, 
far faster and more convenient than 
tape. Standardized CD-R/RW media 
is also rugged and costs much less 
than backup tapes. An 80-minute 




Roxio's Easy Media Creator provides a wizard-driven tool 
that automates backup planning and creation (Courtesy 
of Sonic Solutions). 






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CD-R holds up to 700MB of data but 
costs less than 27 cents per disc (in 
bulk). A comparable CD-RW holds 
up to 540MB when formatted and 
costs less than 60 cents per disc (in 
bulk). This combination of available 
and affordable drives, ease of installa- 
tion (if you're adding a CD-RW drive 
as an upgrade), fast performance, and 
inexpensive media has allowed CD- 
RW drives to displace tape drives as 
the most popular backup hardware 
available to PC users. 

DVD drives. Recordable and 
rewriteable DVDs have been em- 
braced by movie and multimedia en- 
thusiasts, but the technology is also 
beneficial for system backups. Many 
PCs today include a rewriteable 
DVD drive, so the hardware is al- 
ready in place. External DVD 
drives are also readily available 
with USB 2.0 or FireWire inter- 
faces. DVD + R/RW drives are 
slower than CD drives (with 
write speeds ranging from 4X to 
16X, depending on the partic- 
ular drive and media that you're 
using), but they more than com- 
pensate for that with their me- 
dia's huge capacity. A single 
DVD can hold 4.7GB, while one 
of the latest DL (dual-layer) 
DVDs can hold up to 8.4GB of 
data. Far more capacity means 
fewer discs to swap and store. 

And the costs are still attrac- 
tive. DVD+R media costs about 
$1 per disc (give or take 30 
cents), while 4.7GB rewriteable 
(DVD+RW) discs run anywhere 
from $1 to $2 each. Dual-layer 
discs can cost about $6 each, 
though prices will plummet as 
the technology enters main- 
stream use. DVD media is more 
expensive per disc, but it can be 
quite economical for backup 
users. Just consider the num- 
bers: A 50GB system backup 
would require 11 DVDs (or six 
DL DVDs), compared to 72 CD- 
Rs that store 700MB apiece. 
That's about $11 for 11 DVDs, 



142 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



g) Recovering Data 



vs. approximately $18.72 for 72 CD- 
Rs. As with CD drives, DVD drives 
(or computers with DVD drives al- 
ready installed) generally include 
bundled software you can use to 
create backups. 

Hard drives. Hard drives offer high 
speed, huge storage capacities (300GB 
or more), and very low cost, making 
them powerful backup options. Many 
high-end PCs include two hard 
drives. If yours has only one, you can 
easily add a second hard drive to an 
existing system. 

With a second physical hard drive, 
you can use tools such as Windows 
Explorer to copy individual files or 
groups of files to the second hard 
drive. Using specialized software such 
as Symantec's Norton Ghost 9.0 
($69.95; www.powerquest.com/sabu 
/ghost/ghost_personal), a user can 
mirror one hard drive to another. You 
should use a second hard drive for 
backups, rather than a separate parti- 
tion on the same hard drive, because 
backing up one partition to another on 
the same physical drive will not protect 
your data if the drive itself should fail. 
The other factor to consider is mo- 
bility. You cannot easily remove hard 
drives fixed in the PC and lock them 
up as you can with CDs, DVDs, or 
tape. However, a growing number of 
external FireWire and USB (Universal 
Serial Bus) hard drive/software bun- 
dles, such as Buffalo Technology's 
DriveStation line (www.buffalotech 
xom/products/storage.php), offer up 
to 250GB of mobile storage that you 
can move between computers or se- 
cure off-site. 

Software 

It's possible to copy and access in- 
dividual files and folders to any drive 
on your PC directly through Win- 
dows Explorer, but it's often easier to 
use backup software to copy several 
files than it is to drag and drop them 
to a drive, especially if those files are 
scattered all over your hard drive. 
Usually, companies include suitable 



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Tools such as Sonic's RecordNow can easily 
create bootable CD/DVD discs simply by se- 
lecting that option before burning (the little 
green button right of the Volume Label). 

backup and restore software with the 
drive so you don't need to buy soft- 
ware separately, although these in- 
cluded programs are "light" versions 
that don't have all the features of a 
full version of the product. Let's look 
at a few common backup tools. 

CD/DVD recording software. If 
you're copying files to CD-R, you 
need a CD-R recording utility, such as 
Roxio Easy Media Creator 7.5 (www 
.roxio.com). If rewriteable CDs are 
your preference, the Easy Media 
Creator package also includes a Drag- 
to-Disc packet writing utility, which 
can format and handle CD-RW media 
just like large floppy diskettes. A Disc 
Copier feature lets you make backup 
copies of personal discs with a single 
click — this can include your music 
discs, as well as nonprotected DVD 
video discs. Easy Media Creator also 
supports full system backups. You can 
regularly schedule backups and select 
exactly what files and folders should 
be backed up and burned to CD or 
DVD. Small business users can even 
take advantage of Creator's 128-bit 
encryption feature for added security. 

There are many other powerful and 
convenient software tools available 
for system backups. If your main 
focus is simply backing up files, con- 
sider Sonic Solutions' Backup MyPC 



(www.roxio.com). The software in- 
corporates disaster recovery features 
and supports a full assortment of 
CD/DVD burners, tape drives, re- 
movable media, and additional hard 
drives. Alternatively, NovaBackup 7.2 
(www.novastor.com) supports tape 
drives, CD and DVD drives (in- 
cluding Blu-Ray DVD drives), dual- 
layer DVD media, and Iomega Rev 
drives. It also includes disaster re- 
covery features that let you restore 
backups without the need to reinstall 
any original software. 

Disaster Preparation 

Virtually every PC shipped today 
includes some form of CD or DVD 
recordable drive and sports a software 
bundle that typically includes some 
backup function. Such burning soft- 
ware may be native or proprietary to 
the particular drive, but is more likely 
a broadly supported third-party 
utility such as Easy Media Creator, 
Sonic RecordNow, Sonic Backup 
MyPC, or other tool. Such software 
can help you prepare for emergencies, 
such as hard drive failures, by creating 
a backup (sometimes dubbed a "dis- 
aster recovery set"). 

Here's how to set up a backup pro- 
ject using Easy Media Creator, one of 
the most popular CD/DVD recording 
programs. First, double-click the 
Roxio Easy Media Creator Home icon 
on your desktop and choose Creator 
Classic from the list of Applications. 
Select File, choose New Project, and 
select Backup Project. Opt to Create 
New Project from the left pane, enter a 
name for the project, and complete the 
requested information on the What, 
When, and How tabs to specify the 
backup. Once a backup starts, you typ- 
ically only need to swap the media as 
each disc fills up. Of course, other 
backup programs use their own 
unique steps, so be sure to familiar- 
ize yourself with your particular 
burning/backup application. If your 
backup software allows for the creation 
of disaster recovery (self-bootable) 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 143 



g) Recovering Data 



media, be sure to configure your 
backup software accordingly when 
making full backups. (You don't need 
self-booting media when only backing 
up small folders or general data files.) 

Full backups can demand a great 
deal of media, so be sure to have plenty 
of discs on hand before starting. The 
backup software will typically calculate 
the total number of discs you'll need, 
so just be sure you have enough. 
Remember that not every backup pro- 
gram is capable of creating multidisc 
backups (called disc spanning). So if 
you're shopping for comprehensive 
backup software, be sure that the soft- 
ware can span the backup across mul- 
tiple CDs, DVDs, or tapes. 

Here's another common gotcha; 
some disaster recovery tools prepare 
the backup set based on the partition 
sizes of your hard drives. If you must 
replace a defective hard drive, you may 
have to partition your new drive identi- 
cally to the old one. If you don't, the 
backup may not restore properly. For 
example, if your C: drive is a 200GB 
drive partitioned as a single FAT32 (file 
allocation table, 32-bit version) vol- 
ume, you should replace the drive with 
another 200GB unit and partition it the 
same way. The recovery software must 
have as much space to work with as the 
original drive's partitions. 

Remember to mark your backup set 
as each disc is written and store the set 
in a safe place, preferably with all of 
your other original discs and manuals. 
As a rule, update your disaster recovery 
set whenever you add new hardware or 
software to the system. Because disaster 
recovery sets can be time-consuming to 
make, you typically make them only 
occasionally. This means you normally 
won't get up-to-the-minute backups of 
your important data, so keep a floppy, 
Zip disk, CD-R/RW, or even a flash 
drive nearby to back up your most cur- 
rent work files. 

Disaster Tips 

Data recovery will only go as 
smoothly as your backup effort. If you 



want the quickest and most painless 
recovery from data loss, make solid 
preparations in advance and update 
your backups as the system changes. 
This takes time and effort on your 
part, but the reward is minimum 
downtime and little (if any) data loss. 
Here are some tips that will help you 
prepare for trouble. 

Gather your media. Make a "dis- 
aster kit" containing all of the 
CDs/DVDs, driver diskettes, and 
backups for your system. You'll find a 
cardboard box or small plastic tote is 
ideal for this purpose. This ensures 




Windows XP supports System Restore, which 
can sometimes restore a mildly afflicted PC to 
an earlier working state. 

you have, in one place, everything you 
need to recover or reload your 
system. It wouldn't hurt to keep all of 
the system documentation and man- 
uals here, too. 

Back up with consistency. Make the 
time to run a full backup of your PC 
and then back it up every time you 
make changes to it. You generally 
won't need to perform full backups on 
a frequent basis, but you should get 
into the habit of backing up consis- 
tently, perhaps every three months. 

Always verify the backup. When 
you create a backup, always test or 
verify it (most backup programs in- 
clude a feature to verify the validity of 
the backup). Many users (even expe- 
rienced users) frequently skip verifi- 
cation to save time. When the day 
comes when you need the backup, 
you may be horrified to find that the 
backup was damaged or incomplete 



and, therefore, worthless. Checking 
the backup after you make it ensures 
that the backup is readable and com- 
plete. Failed verifications may expose 
underlying problems with the drive, 
the media, or the software. 

Try a disaster drill. Many folks go 
through the backup process but wind 
up unable to recover their PCs simply 
because they've never actually had to 
do it. There's nothing more frustrating 
than having a complete backup but not 
knowing how to restore it. It's impor- 
tant for every backup user (especially 
business users) to practice a restoration 
process once they've created a full 
backup. Even if you don't actually re- 
store a single file, try booting your re- 
covery media and make sure you know 
how to access any available backup(s). 

Focus on important data. Full 
backups and disaster disc sets are life- 
savers when you need to recover from a 
major problem, such as a hard drive 
failure. But such disasters are rare. 
You're more likely to experience a 
problem with an individual file than 
your entire hard drive, so you may 
want to back up your important files 
on a daily basis. You can always rein- 
stall a damaged application from its 
original CD, if necessary, but lost data 
files are difficult (sometimes impos- 
sible) to re-create. It's better to lose a 
day's work restoring yesterday's file 
from CD-RW rather than lose a mon- 
th's work because you neglected to 
make a copy of the file in the first place. 

Whether caused by human error, 
computer virus, or hardware failure, 
data loss is a critical issue in modern 
computing. Some data loss may be 
little more than a minor inconve- 
nience, but most users find data loss 
to be a major headache, even a pos- 
sible threat to their livelihoods. 
Fortunately, data loss doesn't have to 
be catastrophic. With a bit of advance 
planning and consistent implementa- 
tion, you can easily protect your im- 
portant files and recover lost data 
with a minimum of fuss. SI 

by Stephen J. Bicelow 



144 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Digital Media Files 



Music Your Way 

All About Digital Music Files 




There's no avoiding digital 
music. Satellite radio, CDs, 
and popular music down- 
load services such as iTunes 
(which recently announced 
it had exceeded 300 million song 
downloads) all use digital music of 
one type or another. Apple's iPods 
and all of the other competing 
portable music players use digital 
music, and if you want to convert 
your music library to take advantage 
of these products, put all of your 
songs on your computer for easy ac- 
cess or "burn" music mixes to record- 
able CDs for playback in your car or 
home stereo, it is important to know 
how these files work. 



From Waves To Ones & Zeros 

Audio in the real world is made up 
of waves, and any recording format 
that captures those waves is an analog 
technology. Unfortunately computers 
don't understand sound waves and 
instead perform every conceivable op- 
eration using binary code. Binary 
code consists entirely of Is and 0s, 
which is why computer audio is called 
digital — it's literally created using a 
series of digits. 



Quality vs. Quantity 

The more digits that are used to re- 
produce the original analog waves, 



the higher the quality of the digital 
audio, and bit rate is the unit used to 
measure the number of bits (Is and 
0s) that are used to store each second 
of audio. Because bits are so small, bit 
rates generally are expressed in Kbps 
(kilobits per second), where one Kbps 
equals 1,000 bits per second. For ex- 
ample, a track converted using a bit 
rate of 64Kbps uses 64,000 Is and 0s 
for each second of audio, whereas a 
track converted using a bit rate of 
256Kbps uses 256,000 ones and zeros 
for each second of audio. 

Obviously, the 256Kbps file sounds 
better than the 64Kbps file, but higher 
bit rates translate to increased file sizes. 
Pretend we have a song that lasts for 
exactly three minutes and make one 
copy using a 64Kbps bit rate and an- 
other copy using the 256Kbps bit rate. 
The 64Kbps version requires 1.44MB 
(megabytes) of storage space, or the 
same amount of space available on a 
single floppy diskette. The higher- 
quality 256Kbps version requires 
5.76MB of storage space, so it would 
take four floppy diskettes to hold the 
same song. The trade-off between bit 
rate and storage space is critical when 
working with digital audio files, as 
nearly every digital music format has a 
sweet spot where a certain bit rate is 
virtually indistinguishable from that of 
a commercial audio CD (see sidebar). 

More Music, Less Space 

The beauty of digital music is that 
it can be compressed, letting users 
store a larger amount of music in a 
smaller amount of storage space. A 
standard audio CD holds about 74 
minutes of high-quality, uncom- 
pressed audio, which takes up 650MB 
of storage space. Today's hard drives 
hold multiple GB (gigabytes) of data, 
and there are 1,000MB in 1GB, so 
even a few CDs eat up massive 
amounts of storage space when they 
are copied to a hard drive. 

Because digital music is made up of 
a stream of Is and 0s, it is possible to 
represent groups of digits using a 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 145 



(Q Digital Media Files 



code that takes up less space than the 
original stream did. For example, if a 
music stream contains the digits 
0000000011111111 (eight zeros fol- 
lowed by eight ones) a simple com- 
pression algorithm could reduce that 
to 8081, which requires 1/4 the 
storage space of the original series. 

PCs can only read binary code, so 
special decoder software is needed to 
reconstitute the compressed data into a 
language the PC understands. The soft- 
ware that compresses and decom- 
presses digital audio is called a codec 
(short for compressor/decompressor), 
and the compressed files won't play 
back on a PC that doesn't have the 
proper codec installed. That's why, 
when you record a CD full of com- 
pressed music, it plays fine on your PC, 
where the codec is installed, but may 
not play back on a car or standalone 
home CD player that is designed only 
to decode commercial audio CDs. 

Audio compression software uses 
two types of compression, lossless and 
lossy, to create smaller digital music 
files. Lossless compression works like 
the rudimentary example we provided 
above. All of the Is and 0s in the track 
are accounted for, and all of them are 
re-created perfectly when the com- 
pressed music is decoded. That means 
there is absolutely no quality loss com- 
pared to the original audio file, but 
lossless compression is extremely inef- 
ficient. It generally crunches files down 
to half their original size, meaning that 
with lossless compression, a 74-minute 
CD will consume about 325MB of 
space on your hard drive. 

Lossy compression gives up some 
quality to achieve much smaller file 
sizes than lossless compression. Lossy 
formats use different algorithms to 
strip some of the frequencies and other 
data out of a song that don't necessarily 
make any difference to our ears. A 
track compressed using a lossy algo- 
rithm may not have the dynamic range 
of the original track and may not 
sound quite as crisp, but it's possible to 
create perfectly acceptable music using 
a bit rate as low as 128Kbps for most 




Digital audio conversion software supports a 
variety of different bit rates, and knowing 
which one offers the best quality compared to 
file sizes is important. 



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ID tags like this one are essential for keeping 
track of your digital music collection, so be 
sure to always fill them out or use software 
that fills it out for you. 

types of audio. Audio that doesn't have 
a lot of dynamic range, such as audio 
books, can be recorded at bit rates as 
low as 64Kbps and remain virtually in- 
distinguishable from the original audio 
CD. Using lossless compression, you 
could fit more than two hours worth of 
perfect audio on a single CD. Not bad, 
but using a bit rate of 128Kbps, you 
can squeeze more than 10 hours' worth 
of music on a CD or 20 hours' worth of 
audio books recorded at 64Kbps. 



The price of compression is a reduc- 
tion in audio quality, but fortunately it 
is possible to vary the bit rate used for 
lossy compression until you find a set- 
ting that is acceptable to your ears 
while still providing significant storage 
space savings. In our experience, a bit 
rate of 192Kbps (or even 160Kbps) of- 
fers much higher quality than the base- 
line 128Kbps bit rate for music, but 
experiment to find a setting you like. If 
you listen to a lot of classical music, 
which has a huge dynamic range, or 
jazz, where several instruments tend to 
overlap all of the time, a higher setting 
works best. On the other hand, most 
country and pop music tends to sound 
OK using even 128Kbps. The relation- 
ship between quality and bit rate also 
depends on the lossy file format you 
choose, as some are better than others. 
For general tips on what bit rate to se- 
lect when converting particular types of 
audio check out the bit rates sidebar. 

Most audio conversion formats also 
include an option called VBR (variable 
bit rate) that provides arguably the 
best compromise between quality and 
storage space. With VBR, instead of 
setting one constant bit rate, you select 
one lower rate (such as 128Kbps) and 
one higher rate (such as 320Kbps). The 
conversion software then adjusts the 
bit rate depending on what is hap- 
pening in the track, using the lower bit 
rate for quiet or static passages and al- 
locating more bits when the music be- 
comes very dynamic. In this example, 
the resulting file would be slightly 
larger than a constant 12Kbps file but 
much smaller than a constant 320Kbps 
file, but the music quality would 
be much closer to 320Kbps than 
128Kbps. VBR is a great tool, but make 
sure your hardware supports VBR 
playback or the file will be unusable. 

Tag It 

Digital compression gives us the 
ability to fit thousands of songs on a 
portable audio device, and it also gives 
us the tools to manage that much 
audio. Thanks to the digital format, it is 



146 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Digital Media Files 



possible to append small text files 
called tags to each song that contain in- 
formation about the artist, album, mu- 
sical genre, and track title, depending 
on the type of tags that are used. Digital 
music players read these tags and then 
organize your music in a variety of 
ways, making it very easy to find any- 
thing from a particular song to a gen- 
eral type of music. When selecting 
compressed music formats, make sure 
the one you pick lets you download, 
add, or edit tags to your songs. 

Digital Rights Management 

One of the downsides to digital 
music, at least from a consumer's per- 
spective, is that it lets artists, music 
studios, and digital music download 
services add myriad types of copy pro- 
tection to their audio. It's called DRM 
(digital rights management), and the 
technology goes far beyond simply 
preventing people from making copies 
of protected tracks. DRM is used to 
make digital music only play on cer- 
tain devices, such as the way songs 
downloaded from Apple's iTunes ser- 
vice are designed to play only on 
Apple's iPod products or computers 
that use iTunes software. Songs can be 
protected so that they only play once 
and then expire or only play as long as 
the person listening to them pays a 
monthly service fee. DRM can be used 
to tie music to a specific computer, or 
even to track how many times a song 
has been burned to a CD and prevent 
it from being copied after a certain 
number is reached. Read license agree- 
ments closely when purchasing digital 
music (or a subscription to a digital 
music service) and only pay for music 
that you can use the way you want to. 

File Types 

Many people use the term MP3 
when referring to compressed music 
of any kind, but that file format is just 
one of many competing standards. 

If you have a digital music player, it 
likely came with software to convert 



your CDs and audio files to various 
formats that are compatible with 
the player. If not, we recommend 
Illustrate's dBpowerAMP Music 
Converter (free; www.dbpoweramp 
.com). It can extract music from CDs 
and convert it into a variety of for- 
mats, and all of the codecs you need 
are available at Illustrate's Web site. 
The included MP3 codec is available 
only on a trial basis (you must pay 
$14 if you want to encode MP3s using 
the software) but there are so many 
free alternatives available that we rec- 
ommend using one of those if your 
playback equipment supports it. 



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AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) 

File names end with: .MP4, .M4A, 
.M4P, .AAC. Music files based on AAC 
technology are poised to supplant MP3 
in terms of popularity, and AAC cer- 
tainly beats the older standard in terms 
of technology. The AAC format is 30% 
more efficient than the MP3 format, 
meaning it is theoretically possible to 
achieve the same audio quality with a 
128Kbps AAC file as you could with a 
192Kbps MP3 file. We highly recom- 
mend AAC if your playback equipment 
supports it, and most portable 
players — including the iPod — do. 

Although AAC is the name for the 
general codec, it's an umbrella term 
that applies to several subformats that 



use AAC encoding. True .ACC files 
contain only music, no ID tags, 
whereas files using the .MP4 (audio 
and video) or .M4A (audio only) sub- 
formats can include tags. Copy-pro- 
tected AAC files, such as those 
downloaded from iTunes, end in the 
.M4P file extension. 

To use AAC, install the MP4 & 
AAC Decoder along with one of the 
free MP4 encoders available at the 
dBpowerAMP Web site, or use 
Apple's iTunes software (free; www 
.apple.com/itunes). 

AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) 

File names end with: .AIF, .AIFF, 
.IEF. AIFF is to Macs what WAV is to 
PCs — uncompressed audio that repre- 
sents what amounts to an exact and 
very large duplicate of the original 
audio file. A number of players sup- 
port AIFF, but there is really no reason 
to use it unless you want to convert or 
manipulate the AIFF file without dis- 
turbing the original. For simple storage 
and playback, lossless formats such as 
Apple Lossless and FLAC offer the 
same sound quality in about half the 
amount of storage space. 

Apple Lossless 

File names end with: .MP4. If you 

want the best sound quality from your 
iPod, Apple Lossless is the way to go, 
although it requires a lot of storage 
space compared to AAC files. You can 
use Apple's iTunes software to import 
CD audio in Apple Lossless format. 
Just fire up the software, expand the 
Edit menu, click Options, select the 
Importing tab, and click Apple 
Lossless Encoder on the Import Using 
drop-down menu before clicking OK. 

ATRAC (Adaptive Transform Acoustic 
Coding), ATRAC3 & ATRAC3plus 

File names end with: .ATP, 
.OMG, .OMA. Virtually all of Sony's 
digital music players support one or 
more of the company's proprietary 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 147 



(Q Digital Media Files 



ATRAC formats, which Sony origi- 
nally developed for its MiniDisc 
players. The newer ATRAC3 and 
ATRAC3plus standards are superior 
to the original, but still can't com- 
pete with technologies such as AAC, 
Ogg Vorbis, and WMA, so we rec- 
ommend using those formats when- 
ever possible. 

CDA 

File names end with: .CDA. CDA 
isn't really a file format. It's just an 
extension Windows uses to mark 
tracks found on a commercial audio 
CD. Technically CDA files are the 
same thing as WAV files, so if you use 
recording software to create a CD full 
of WAV or CDA files, it can be read 
like a standard audio CD by a large 
number of CD and DVD players. Not 
all CD and DVD players can read 
recordable discs, but this is the best 
option for someone who wants to 
make CDs that can be played on al- 
most any type of equipment. 

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) 

File names end with: .FLAC, .FLA. 

FLAC isn't necessarily the best free 
lossless audio codec available, but it is 
compatible with more portable MP3 
players than just about any other loss- 
less format. If your computer or 
portable player has a large hard drive 
and can play FLAC files, and you 
want the best possible quality instead 
of the maximum amount of storage, 
FLAC is a decent option. 

MP3&MP3Pro 

File names end with: .MP3. MP3 is 

no longer the best format in terms of 
sound quality vs. compression effi- 
ciency, but it is practically univer- 
sally supported by every hardware 
and software player ever released. 
This alone makes it the format of 
choice if you want maximum com- 
patibility over the long haul, but if all 
you care about is audio quality, 



newer formats such as AAC, Ogg 
Vorbis, and WMA offer superior 
sound quality at all bit rates. 

Ogg Vorbis (Vorbis) 

File names end with: .OGG. Some 
portable players support the oddly 
named Ogg Vorbis format. This 
technology is open-source, meaning 
the codec is free and an active user 
community continually makes im- 
provements to it. It's a great alterna- 
tive to MP3 or even WMA for 
players that support the files thanks 
to superior sound quality across all 



Choose The Right 
Bit Rates 



Selecting the proper bit rate is 
more of an art than a science un- 
less you have tons of storage space 
to work with (in which case higher 
bit rates or lossless compression are 
no-brainers), but when you're trying 
to fit the best-quality music into the 
minimum amount of storage space 
there are some guidelines you can 
follow. The following examples as- 
sume you are using the popular 
MP3 format. I 

Type Minimum Preferred 

Of Audio Bit Rate Bit Rate 



Speech 


64Kbps 


128Kbps 


Music 
(pop, rock) 


128Kbps 


192Kbps 


Music 

(classical, 

jazz) 


160Kbps 


256Kbps 



Sound Quality Comparison 

32Kbps = Telephone 
64Kbps = AM Radio 
96Kbps = FM Radio 
128Kbps to 160Kbps = near-CD- 
quality 

192Kbps = Virtually indistinguish- 
able from source material 
256Kbps+ = Indistinguishable from 
source material 



supported bit rates, but its somewhat 
limited compatibility is a problem. 

WAV 

File names end with: .WAV. For the 

ultimate in sound quality, go with the 
WAV format, which simply extracts an 
exact copy of digital audio from a CD. 
No compression is used at all, so WAV 
files consume tons of hard drive space, 
but they also provide you with a 
carbon copy of a music track that can 
be converted into a compressed format 
or otherwise manipulated without af- 
fecting the original file. WAV support 
is integrated into dBpowerAMP, so no 
download is necessary. 

WMA (Windows Media Audio) 

File names end with: .WMA. WMA 
is an extremely flexible digital music 
format that is supported by a wide 
range of portable players, and any 
computer with Windows installed 
also can play the files using Windows 
Media Player. WMA is slightly better 
in terms of sound quality than the 
MP3 format, but we recommend a 
minimum bit rate of 128Kbps for ac- 
ceptable results. WMA supports a 
lossless format, as well, so you get the 
best of both worlds with one codec. 

Make The Right Choke 

It may seem impossible for anyone 
but the experts to choose the ideal 
compression scheme, bit rate, and file 
type, but don't panic. Decide what is 
more important to you: high-quality 
music, or squeezing the maximum 
amount of audio onto your PC or 
music player. After that, pick a format 
that is compatible with your hardware, 
select a bit rate that offers acceptable 
audio quality, and convert away. As 
long as you archive copies of the orig- 
inal files, you can always reconvert 
them to a better quality codec when 
one comes along. \ks\ 

by Tracy Baker 



148 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



^J Digital Media Files 



Binary Memories 

Pick The Perfect File Type For Photography 



In the past few years, 
digital cameras have 
advanced from tech- 
nological toys to tools at 
the forefront of an imag- 
ing revolution. As a result 
these digital wonders are 
introducing millions of 
users to an entire range of 
new photography termi- 
nology. Not surprisingly, 
a lot of novice and pro- 
fessional photographers 
are having a hard time 
understanding the glut of 
new-fangled terms and 
file types. 

Whether you use your 
digicam for snapshots at 
family events or you're a 
film professional breaking 
into the digital realm, you 
won't reap the full bene- 
fits of your imaging devices until you 
have a firm grasp on the concepts that 
make digital files work. 

Getting more familiar with the basic 
files you'll handle will save time, reduce 
your image manipulation frustrations, 
and help you take better pictures, too. 

Compression Matters 

Computers store digitized images in 
dozens of different formats, and you 
might wonder why we need so many 
file types at our disposal. The short 
answer is that software developers and 
hardware creators often have different 
ideas about the characteristics that 
make for the best image properties, 
and they have different methods for 
achieving their imaging goals. 

There's also the matter of file size. 
Like other multimedia file types, such 
as those for video and sound, digital 




photos eat up a lot of space, which 
means software developers must de- 
vise techniques to make images 
smaller, and thus, easier to store and 
use. That's why an image file's data 
compression scheme is one of the 
most important traits to consider 
when differentiating one image 
format from another. 

There are two major categories of 
image compression: lossless compres- 
sion and lossy compression. As the 
name implies, lossless compression 
techniques make an image file smaller 
without losing any of the file's data — 
they reduce file size in a way that lets 
your software reconstruct the picture 
data, bit by bit, until you have the 
original file on your computer. 

Lossless compression works by re- 
ducing data redundancy in an 
image. For instance, these schemes 
look for pixels that have the exact 



same tone of the color blue, and in- 
stead of saving the information for 
that color multiple times, lossless 
compression algorithms save the in- 
formation once and insert markers 
for the repeated color. Your PC uses 
those space-saving markers to re- 
build the original image. 
However, because few 
images have many in- 
stances where pixels are 
exactly the same color, 
lossless compression 
techniques aren't very 
efficient, and they rarely 
cut image size in half. 

Lossy compression for- 
mats are much better at 
reducing image size. That 
is because lossy compres- 
sion techniques actually 
discard some of the im- 
age's original data. This 
results in a file that's 
very similar to the orig- 
inal image but also many 
times smaller, helping to 
conserve large amounts of 
your camera's and your 
PC's storage space. Prob- 
lems arise, however, when 
you want to make a high-resolution 
print or when you want to zoom in on 
a photo's minute features; without the 
discarded data, those details become 
fuzzy or completely indecipherable. 

In general, file types that use loss- 
less compression are optimal for 
printable images because they have 
the best resolution and retain crucial 
details. But file types that use lossy 
compression often work very well 
when you want to create prints, and 
these files are also best for online and 
email applications. Understanding the 
following file types will help you get a 
better idea of how lossless and lossy 
file types will affect your image ma- 
nipulation strategies. 

King JPEG 

Digital cameras record their images 
in three main file formats: JPEG 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 149 



(Q Digital Media Files 



(Joint Photographic Experts Group), 
TIFF (Tagged Image File Format), 
and RAW. These file types have very 
different capabilities and traits that 
you should remember as you consider 
your specific imaging needs. 

The most widespread digital 
photo file type is the JPEG, which 
has a JPG filename extension. JPEGs 
(pronounced "Jay-pegs") are also 
known as JFIFs (JPEG File Inter- 
change Format), which is actu- 
ally more accurate than the 
more common JPEG designa- 
tion. That's because JFIF is the 
true name of this format, while 
JPEG refers to the compression 
scheme that the format employs 
to save space. For our purposes 
we'll stick with the more fa- 
miliar JPEG moniker. 

There are some good reasons 
that the JPEG format is so pop- 
ular. One reason is compati- 
bility. JPEG files work with every 
image-editing application, Web 
browser, and basic image viewer 
you can think of. What's more, 
JPEGs employ a compression al- 
gorithm that helps compress the 
original file by 10 to 20 times with 
minimal quality degradation. 

JPEG is a 24-bit file format. That 
means three bytes represent each pixel 
color, one for red, one for green, and 
one for blue. Because every single byte 
can be expressed with 256 different 
shades of those colors, there about 16 
million possible color combinations 
for each pixel. 

That may sound like a lot of data to 
store in one image file, but JPEGs are a 
lossy compression file format. As it re- 
organizes your image and tosses out 
unnecessary data, the JPEG compres- 
sion breaks up the file data into squares 
with eight pixels to a side. These 
squares are initially invisible to the 
naked eye, but the more you compress 
an image, and the more you increase 
magnification in your editing program, 
the more obvious those squares be- 
come. That's why it's best to avoid 
heavy compression when possible. 



Most digital cameras record images 
as JPEG files. That means that your 
original image files are significantly 
compressed before you even transfer 
them to your computer. In most cases 
you have control over compression, 
though, because almost all cameras let 
you select the JPEG quality setting, 
such as SuperFine, Fine, or Basic. 
Always stick with the highest image 




Most digital cameras offer you several image quality 
settings, but in most situations it's best to stick with a 
high-resolution JPEG file. 



quality so you have good-quality files 
to work on your PC. If those files fill 
up your camera's storage media (such 
as a flash card) too quickly, invest in 
media with larger capacity. 

It's important to know that 
shooting with JPEGs means your 
camera will apply sharpness, con- 
trast, color saturation, white bal- 
ance, and other settings to your 
image. Most high-end cameras let 
you alter these settings individually, 
while some inexpensive point-and- 
shoot cameras don't. Once your 
camera processes the image and 
writes it to your flash card or other 
media with those specific image set- 
tings, those characteristics are there 
forever. If you apply incorrect set- 
tings, you'll need very good editing 
skills to salvage the shot, but no 
amount of image post-processing 
(or editing) will rescue a JPEG cap- 
tured with too much sharpening or 
other problems. Remember this fact 



when you consider the other file for- 
mats at your disposal. 

RAW Awe 

Another popular camera file format 
is RAW. This isn't an acronym, but an 
accurate term that refers to the orig- 
inal output that's recorded directly 
from the red, green, and blue pixels 
that make up your camera's image 
sensor. Whereas JPEGs are close 
to a finalized digital image, RAW 
files are akin to digital negatives; 
they are completely unprocessed 
by your camera's computer, and 
they offer some advantages not 
found in other image formats. 

Camera makers include RAW 
conversion software with their 
products so end users will be able 
to open and manipulate the RAW 
files. Without this software you 
can't view or alter the image, a fact 
that makes these files unwieldy 
and inefficient for users who just 
want to take pictures and immedi- 
ately create prints or send their 
snapshots to friends via email. 
Also, RAW files are really big. 
They're sometimes slightly compressed 
with a lossless technique (you'll see 
this option in your camera menu if it's 
there), but typically, RAW files are not 
compressed at all, so if you don't have 
a speedy processor and a lot of RAM, 
you'll spend a lot of time waiting for 
your computer to open these files. 
Professional photographers who use 
the RAW format know this and up- 
grade their hardware accordingly. 

Don't let files size intimidate you, 
though. RAW files contain far more 
data than a JPEG, but they actually re- 
quire less space than some other for- 
mats, such as TIFF, and their high- 
resolution lets you create large prints 
without the flaws that lossy compres- 
sion schemes cause in other formats. 

Better yet, the RAW file lets you 
make low-level changes to the image 
after you're done shooting. Did you 
forget to set the correct white balance 
mode? Did you screw up the color 



150 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Digital Media Files 




This is one 3MP (megapixel) camera that captures TIFF 
images, as designated by the HI indicator on the bottom 
right of the camera's screen. Only three of these mammoth 
files would fit on a small 32MB flash card. 



saturation setting? With RAW it 
doesn't matter because you can apply 
these settings after you shoot the image 
because you're working with data that 
hasn't been processed by your camera's 
internal computer. 

Adobe to the rescue. The RAW 
format causes a lot of confusion be- 
cause even though RAW files are un- 
processed, these kinds of files vary 
depending on the camera you choose. 
Each camera manufacturer tweaks 
their cameras to produce a unique 
version of the RAW format. Some- 
times, these companies even vary 
RAW traits between camera models. 

Because of these problems, Adobe 
Systems devised the Digital Negative 
Specification, a unified format for 
RAW image files that comes with a 
.DNG filename extension. Adobe in- 
troduced the specification in the 
hopes of making RAW file incompati- 
bilities less of a hassle for photogra- 
phers who need to store and edit 
thousands of pictures. 

Like many proprietary RAW for- 
mats, the Digital Negative Specification 
is based on a version of the TIFF 
format, but the difference is flexibility. 
To make the specification work, you 
convert your RAW files into the .DNG 



format using a free con- 
verter utility from Adobe. 
Then you can view and 
manipulate your .DNG 
files using any program 
that adheres to the Digital 
Negative Specification. 
During the editing process, 
you can convert a .DNG 
file to a JPEG or other 
space-efficient format. 

The development of 
this specification is cru- 
cial because .DNG files 
will have much longer life 
spans compared to files 
that exist as part of a pro- 
prietary RAW format. 
For example, if you shoot 
an image with one manu- 
facturer's proprietary 
RAW format and save it 
to your computer, it's unlikely that in 
10 years you'll have software that rec- 
ognizes the specific format. Convert 
RAW images to .DNG, however, and 
you can shoot with dozens of digital 
cameras through the course of the 
years and be assured that any .DNG- 
capable program will help you manip- 
ulate the images. 

It's also helpful that the Digital 
Negative Specification isn't a static set 
of rules. The specification is adaptable, 
meaning it will accommodate RAW 
formats for cameras that haven't been 
invented yet. The specification is even 
designed for unforeseen advances in 
imaging technology, another reason 
that RAW files converted to the .DNG 
format are the best choice for long- 
term archival purposes. 

TIFF For Prints 

A few digital cameras will let you 
record images as TIFF files, which 
typically have a .TIF or .TIFF filename 
extension. This format isn't as widely 
recognized as JPEGs, but most image- 
editing programs and viewer utilities 
can open and display TIFF files. And 
TIFFs do have some helpful traits 
lacking in JPEGs. 



One of the biggest advantages of 
TIFFs is that they support CMYK 
(Cyan Magenta Yellow Black) images 
in both PC and Macintosh formats, as 
opposed to the basic RGB (Red Green 
Blue) JPEGs. In layman's terms, that 
basically means that TIFF images are 
more suitable than JPEGs for profes- 
sional printing and publishing. 

A lot of cameras will let you save 
your images in an 8-bit TIFF format 
to help you avoid the compression 
used in JPEG files. However, a high- 
resolution camera will produce very 
large TIFF files, causing slowdowns as 
the camera attempts to write the data 
to your flash card. 

That doesn't mean TIFF files never 
use compression. Depending on the 
application, there are several types of 
compression used for TIFFs, and 
combined with the aforementioned 
color system flexibility, TIFFs are an 
excellent choice for serious desktop 
publishing tasks and for advanced 
users who have cameras that don't 
capture RAW images. 

For the average digicam user, 
though, TIFFs are a weak choice when 
compared to JPEGs, primarily because 
TIFFs are so much larger than JPEGs. 
A JPEG from a 5MP (megapixel) 
camera might weigh in at around 1MB. 
In contrast, a single uncompressed 
TIFF file from a 5MP camera might be 
as large as 14MB, and a camera that ap- 
plies some compression to its TIFF files 
will still produce an image that's 6MB 
or larger. These tremendous file sizes 
alone should dissuade you from using 
TIFFs in most circumstances. 

Put Them To Use 

Now you have a clearer under- 
standing of the differences between 
the formats used in digital photog- 
raphy. Let's use some examples to 
show how you can best put these for- 
mats to use for you. 

JPEG uses. JPEGs are the most 
convenient and efficient image file 
type you can use. That's especially 
true if you're using a sluggish digicam 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 151 



(Q Digital Media Files 



and a flash card with slow write 
speeds because a slow camera will 
record JPEGs much faster than it will 
record larger TIFF and RAW files. 
Cameras with faster image processors 
also save JPEGs more quickly than 
bigger file types. 

The compactness of JPEGs makes it 
easier for you to transfer them to 
your PC. It takes less time to 
transfer 10 JPEGs to your hard 
drive than it does to transfer the 
same number of RAW files. In the 
same vein, your PC's CPU will dis- 
play JPEGs faster than it will calcu- 
late RAW or TIFF file adjustments. 

Although JPEGs can't offer the 
same super-high image quality of 
its bulkier brethren, they can make 
for excellent prints, especially 
when you use the highest resolu- 
tion and lowest compression set- 
tings — that's one reason for the 
recent proliferation of inkjet 
printers that let you print images 
directly from images stored on a 
flash card. So if you only want to 
print a few photos now and then, 
you'll have few complaints with 
JPEG print quality. 

Here's an important point to re- 
member about JPEGs. If you open 
a JPEG file in an image editing 
program and plan to work on the 
photo for more than one session, 
it's best to first save the file into a 
different format, such as TIFF, that 
doesn't use lossy compression. 
There's a good reason for this — 
every time you reopen and resave a 
JPEG, the file is further com- 
pressed. The file remains about the 
same size, but the extra compres- 
sion tends to break down image 
quality. If that doesn't make sense to 
you, imagine making a photocopy of a 
photocopy, and think of how after 10 
copies, the results are nothing like the 
original. If you prefer to have a JPEG as 
your final image format, you can con- 
vert the TIFF back to JPEG after you fi- 
nalize the editing process. 

If you do quite a bit of tweaking 
with RAW files, but you like the 



convenience of JPEGs, check your 
camera manual. Some cameras actu- 
ally let you capture a RAW file and a 
JPEG simultaneously. This feature 
eats more of your camera's storage 
space, but for some photographers, 
the JPEGs help to simplify their work- 
flow, giving them access to a file that's 




This image shows degradation in quality caused by heavy 
JPEG compression, which is visible as blocky areas. 




Lower compression images have far less JPEG compression 
artifacts. That's why you should use a low compression 
setting for pictures you think you might want to print. RAW 
and TIFF files have far fewer artifacts. 



ready for immediate use until there's 
time to process RAW files. 

If you plan to use your photos pri- 
marily for online activities, JPEGs are 
the best way to go, but you'll have to 
create a plan of attack when it comes 
time to resize your images. You already 
know that heavy compression will 
make your JPEG images look blocky if 
you enlarge them, but if you reduce a 



JPEG's size too much, you'll see a sim- 
ilar effect. If you simply want your 
photos to look nice online, resizing 
them to 72dpi (dots per inch) will typi- 
cally offer you excellent results. 

TIFF uses. TIFF files are the least 
useful format in digital camera work. 
These files will indeed let you create ex- 
cellent prints, but they rapidly con- 
sume space on your digicam 
media, and you need a powerful 
PC to handle these files efficiently. 

You should use the TIFF format 
when your camera doesn't provide 
a RAW format setting and you al- 
ready know that your camera's 
highest-quality JPEG setting isn't 
enough to suit your needs. You 
might also consider TIFFs if you 
need to produce an image for pro- 
fessional printing purposes. 

RAW uses. As with TIFF files, 
the average digicam owner has 
little use for the RAW format. 
These files aren't as cumbersome 
as TIFFs, but they're several times 
larger than JPEGs, meaning RAW 
files will slow down your camera 
and computer to some degree. 

However, if you tend to perform 
post-processing work on your im- 
ages and hope to improve your 
editing skills, you should experi- 
ment with the RAW format. If you 
want to archive your photos in a 
format that will work years from 
now, converting your RAW files to 
.DNG will ensure long-term com- 
patibility for your digital negatives. 

File Finale 

Each digital camera file format 
has different pros and cons. Now 
that you have more information about 
the nature of JPEG, TIFF, and RAW 
images, you can use your camera and 
PC to create better pictures in less time. 
The next time you pick up your 
camera, check your file type settings 
and select the one that's most appro- 
priate for your current task. \ks\ 

by Nathan Chandler 



152 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



^J Digital Media Files 



Feature 
Attraction 

A Spotlight On Digital Video Formats 




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Consumer video technology offi- 
cially took off in 1976 with the 
introduction of VHS and Beta- 
max videotape. But the real revolu- 
tion didn't begin until the mid-'90s, 
when consumer video started moving 
into the digital domain. (OK, the late 
'70s also brought us the laserdisc, but 
that format never broke into the 
mainstream.) DVD movies are just 
one of the benefits. Digital video is 
equally at home on computer hard 
drives, portable players, on the 
Web — even on cell phones. 

This explosion of viewing options 
has, in turn, generated lots of op- 
tions for the medium itself. Digital 
video comes in enough formats that 
trying to keep track of them can 
seem a little daunting. 



Quality vs. Efficiency 

The variety of video formats is a 
consequence of a couple factors: 
First, the tendency of developers to 
release proprietary technologies that 
they hope will outperform their com- 
petition. Second, the fact that certain 
formats work better than others for 
specific uses. A format that excels at 
preserving high-quality video won't 
be the best choice for clips people 
might download on a dial-up Inter- 
net connection. 

Digital deluge. At the root of such 
trade-offs is the vast amount of data 
that a video file contains. Let's say you 
shoot a 10-second clip of your dog 
chasing his tail. At the standard frame 
rate of 30fps (frames per second; for a 



definition of frame rate and other 
terms, see our "Talking Video" side- 
bar), that's 300 frames. Let's also say 
you're shooting at the NTSC DV 
(National Television Standards Com- 
mittee Digital Video) standard frame 
size of 720 x 480 pixels and at 32-bit 
color depth. 

We don't have room to show you 
the number crunching, but each of 
those 300 frames would take up nearly 
1.32MB of storage space. In other 
words, 10 seconds of your canine 
whirligig would eat up 395.5MB. 

If you felt compelled to share your 
pooch's antics with friends, you 
could cram only about two minutes 
and 22 seconds of video at this reso- 
lution onto a standard 4.7GB DVD- 
R. And that's before you even con- 
sider an audio track! 

Something's gotta give. Obviously, 
raw video isn't an efficient means of 
delivery. We need something to make 
that avalanche of data more manage- 
able. The answer is data compression, 
which is applied with a computer 
algorithm known as a codec (com- 
pressor/decompressor) . 

A codec processes the video file by 
establishing keyframes at a specified 
interval. Each keyframe contains 
100% of the recorded visual data. In 
our spinning dog clip, let's call the 
first two keyframes A and B. For all 
the frames located between the 
keyframes (known as delta frames), 
the codec throws out a portion of the 
original data and instead creates 
frames based on what's changed 
from A to B. 

In our example, the predominant 
motion is the dog. If you've held the 
shot steady, features in the fore- 
ground and background (the carpet 
pattern, furniture, etc.) will be much 
more stationary than your hyperac- 
tive mutt. The codec recognizes this 
and throws out the redundant data, 
and thus starts whittling away at the 
file size. 

More aggressive compression, for 
such uses as online video, bonus 
clips on enhanced music CDs, and so 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 153 



(Q Digital Media Files 



Anatomy Of A DVD 



Among the public the most 
widespread use of digital video 
is probably commercial DVDs. DVDs 
utilize MPEC-2 compression, but if 
you pop one into your computer 
and look over its files, you won't see 
anything that remotely resembles 
any of the various types of video files 
that we cover in this piece. 

Rather than finding a single file 
similar to something you might 
download, you'll discover that a 
DVD breaks things up into nu- 
merous discrete chunks arranged 
into a lengthy file structure. 

We'll overlook the fact that 
some releases supplement the 
movie and extras with DVD-ROM 
content for your computer. The 
real action happens inside a folder 
labeled VIDEO_TS. (The TS stands 
for Title Set.) Here you'll find three 
types of files: 

IFO. These contain information 
about the movie's scenes or chap- 
ters, audio tracks, and subtitles. In 
short, they comprise a map of what 
things are and how they fit together. 

BUP. These are simply backups of 
the IFO files. 

VOB. Short for Video OBject, this 
is where the bulk of the data goes. 
These files contain the interactive 
menus, video, audio, and subtitles. 
They never exceed 1GB in size. A 
full-length movie will be divided 
among multiple VOBs of 1023.9MB 
or smaller. I 



on, might involve lowering the frame 
size and rate, reducing the color 
depth, widening the keyframe in- 
terval, and so on. 

Format Roundup 

Currently, there are six main types 
of video files that you're most likely to 
encounter, or consider converting 
your own footage to: AVI, QuickTime, 



Windows Media Video, MPEG, Real- 
Video, and DivX. We'll provide an 
overview of each of these below; in ad- 
dition to helping you understand what 
you're viewing, if you're working with 
video, this will help you make in- 
formed choices for archiving footage, 
sharing it with others, or 
posting it online. 

This isn't a comprehen- 
sive list, though. You may 
occasionally run into legacy 
formats, clips that have 
been around for several 
years and have never been 
replaced with updated ver- 
sions. For instance, Micro- 
soft's Advanced Streaming 
Format (with an .ASF file 
extension) was superseded 
by Windows Media Video; 
also, an early format called 
Vivo (.VIV) hasn't under- 
gone further development 
since 1997. 

One final clarification: 
Most digital video cameras 
shoot footage to a format 
known as DV (digital video). 
It's a common mispercep- 
tion that this footage is un- 
compressed. Actually, the 
camera itself applies some 
compression at the outset, to 
address the storage concerns 
we mentioned above. So 
when we refer to uncompressed video 
below, it's a slight misnomer, and 
means video that's had no additional 
compression. 

AVI (.AVI). An acronym for Audio- 
Video Interleaved, AVI is a format that 
Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) de- 
veloped primarily for use on the 
Windows platform, although it has 
some playback compatibility with 
Macs. When you transfer DV footage 
from a camcorder to a PC, it's usually 
saved as an AVI file. It retains all the 
quality of the original footage, but 
without further compression, it places 
substantial storage demands on your 
hard drive: about 13GB per hour of 
full-frame footage with stereo audio. 



AVI is what is sometimes known as a 
container format, because it merely 
specifies how the clip's data stream is 
organized, in alternating (interleaved) 
segments of video and audio. Although 
the AVI standard alone doesn't supply 
compression, content creators can use 




Too much coffee? No, too much compression; here we 
turned an uncompressed AVI file into an MPEG-1 clip, 
but went overboard to demonstrate the hazards of 
compressing down to lowest-quality settings. 



codecs within the format to compress 
video down to as much as a tiny frac- 
tion of its original size. 

Ironically, this has made using AVI 
clips more problematic, not less. 
Hundreds of codecs have been devel- 
oped for use with AVI, and to play an 
encoded clip, potential viewers must 
have on their computer the same 
codec that was used to compress it. If 
Windows Media Player or one of a 
few other players encounters a clip it 
can't play, it will attempt to locate 
and install the missing codec, but this 
can be time-consuming and isn't 
always successful. 

If you're compressing AVI video 
and need to be sure that your work 



154 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Digital Media Files 



remains viewable by as many people 
as possible, your best bet is to stick 
with the two most widely used codecs: 
Cinepak and Indeo, which have been 
incorporated in the Windows and 
Mac platforms for years. 

QuickTime (.MOV). Developed by 
Apple Computer (www.apple.com), 
QuickTime is more than just a for- 
mat. It's been an integral part of the 
Macintosh operating system for sev- 
eral years, and most Mac applications 
involving video, audio, and animation 
rely on QuickTime to some degree. 
The QuickTime Player is also prob- 
ably the closest thing out there to a 
universal media player, with support 
for numerous audio/video formats 
and codecs. 

However, QuickTime's reach ex- 
tends far beyond the Mac platform. 
It's an industry standard for multi- 
media developers, with MOV files 
common on CD-ROMs, enhanced 
CDs, and online content sites. And as 
long as they've installed a QuickTime 
Player and driver on their PCs, 
Windows users can access this con- 
tent as easily as Apple users can. 

Like AVI on PCs, MOV is the 
Mac's native format for footage fresh 
from the camcorder, with support for 
full-frame, uncompressed video. 
QuickTime Pro (a $29.99 upgrade to 
the free player that unlocks additional 
features, available on both platforms) 
and other video editors, such as 
Adobe Premier and Apple Final Cut 
Pro HD, support many compression 
standards for MOV files. 

QuickTime is widely regarded as 
having superior video and audio 
quality, for both downloadable and 
streaming video, although at the ex- 
pense of larger files for comparable 
frame sizes. 

Windows Media Video (.WMV). 
WMV files play about the same role 
on PCs as compressed MOV files do 
on the Mac; that is, WMV is now the 
PC's main format for efficient down- 
loads and streaming video. For cross- 
platform compatibility, a Mac version 
of Windows Media Player is available. 



Talking Video: A Mini Glossary 



Like any technology, digital video has its own lexicon. Some of these terms may 
have somewhat different meanings when referring to other technological ap- 
plications, but here we're regarding them only within a DV context. 

codec — Short for compressor/decompressor, although you may sometimes see it 
defined as encoder/decoder. It's typically a software algorithm used for processing 
a video file to reduce its size by removing data that the codec finds to be redun- 
dant. When a video file is encoded with a particular codec, in order to watch it, 
the viewer must have the same codec installed on his playback system. 

color depth — The degree of color accuracy. It's also known as bit depth because 
bits are the basic foundation of digital data. At a given bit depth, each of the im- 
age's pixels (picture elements) can be any one of the supported number of colors. 
For instance, 8-bit color supports 256 possible colors; 16-bit color supports 
65,536; 24-bit color supports over 16.7 million; and 32-bit color supports nearly 
4.3 billion colors, although at this level the human eye can't distinguish them all. 

compression — Another term for the encoding process. 

frame rate — The number of still frames that play each second to create the illu- 
sion of movement. The standard rate established by the NTSC (National 
Television Standards Committee) is 29.97fps, or frames per second, although for 
discussion's sake, this is commonly rounded up to 30. 

frame size — The width and height of a digital image in pixels. The standard NTSC 
DV frame size is 720 (W) x 480 (H). 

lossless — This describes compression methods that preserve all of the data in the 
original file, so none of the detail or quality is lost. Lossless compression results in 
much larger file sizes than lossy methods. 

lossy — This describes compression methods that permanently delete portions of 
video data. Depending on the amount of compression, the picture and audio 
quality can be noticeably degraded compared to the original. 

streaming video — Online video that you can view without having to download 
the entire file first. Your media player will start displaying the clip after only its be- 
ginning has downloaded — usually several seconds or more, which is called a 
buffer. The file plays while the remainder of the clip continues to download. 



In contrast to the previous for- 
mats, WMV's maximum frame size is 
considerably smaller, at 320 x 240. 
But it provides an excellent balance 
between video/audio quality and file 
size, with none of the codec compati- 
bility issues of AVI. 

MPEG (.MPG, .MPEG, .M2V, .MP4, 
and others). This is a family of formats 
developed by the Moving Picture 
Experts Group, a committee within the 
ISO (International Organization for 
Standardization). As a group, these for- 
mats support streaming, downloadable, 



and commercial video in the full range 
of frame sizes. 

Because it permits compression 
ratios of up to 100:1, MPEG-1 is a 
common format for clips posted for 
download, sent by email, and used 
in Microsoft PowerPoint presenta- 
tions. It's also the codec used to 
create VCDs (Video CDs). At its 
normal frame size of 352 x 240, and 
a data stream of 1.5Mbps (megabits 
per second), you can fit about an 
hour of footage on a CD, which, 
when viewed on a TV, will provide 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 155 



(Q Digital Media Files 



quality equivalent to good old 
VHS videotape. 

MPEG-2 provides much higher 
quality than MPEG-1, although at 
larger file sizes. At a compression 
ratio of 40:1, this is the standard 
used for commercial DVDs, which 
permits 133 minutes of video, plus 
audio, on a single-layer disc. MPEG- 
2 is also the codec of choice for most 



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Apple's $29.99 upgrade to QuickTime Pro gives you one of the 
more economical video encoding solutions available. 



North American digital and satellite 
TV systems. 

MPEG-4 is a hybrid of MPEG-2 
and QuickTime technology, and is 
most useful for facilitating interac- 
tive multimedia content, as well as 
streaming and downloadable video. 
Its flexibility also makes it an ideal for 
portable devices such as cell phones. 

RealVideo (.RM, .RMV). RealNet- 
works (www.real.com) offers sub- 
scription-based online programming 
and downloadable video and audio 
content, and was a pioneer in the de- 
velopment of streaming media, in- 
cluding live Webcasts. The various 
forms of its RealMedia software are 
third-party technologies, so even 
when clips are free rather than pre- 
mium content, they're not native to 
either platform's operating system; 
PC and Mac users alike must install 
the free RealPlayer to access them. 

For streaming content, RealVideo 
is designed to work over the full range 
of Internet connections, from dial-up 
to broadband, so size and quality can 
vary widely depending upon connec- 



tion speed. Age matters, too. Older 
clips can look rough and sound tinny, 
but by now, RealMedia is a state-of- 
the-art encoding option. 

DivX (.DIVX, .AVI). Video com- 
pressed with the DivX codec (www 
.divx.com) may not be in as wide- 
spread use yet as the earlier formats, 
but its future is potentially huge. 
Based on MPEG-4, DivX does for 
video what MP3 does 
for digital music. It 
creates a near-DVD- 
quality file at a frac- 
tion of the size of its 
DVD equivalent: rough- 
ly 10% or less. 

After DivX's intro- 
duction in 1999, the 
video piracy commu- 
nity jumped all over it, 
but its developers have 
worked hard to pursue 
legitimate uses; it's ideal 
for transferring and 
streaming high-quality 
video online and across networks. As 
well, some analysts speculate that 
DivX could someday replace MPEG-2 
as the compression standard for 
DVDs, and DivX-certified DVD play- 
ers are now available. 

Once installed, the DivX codec is 
accessible to Windows Media Player 
(the download also installs its own 
player, although on Macs, DivX files 
use the QuickTime Player), and will 
integrate with compatible encoding 
programs such as Roxio's Easy Media 
Creator 7.5 ($99.95, www.roxio.com). 
Content creators can use it within the 
AVI format, or to create files with a 
.DIVX file extension. 

Which Format & When To Use It? 

Choosing the best video format 
for the job depends entirely on what 
that job is. 

Storage and archiving. If you have 
footage that you're happy to save as- 
is, MPEG-2 is for you. Because it's the 
standard for DVDs, most DVD au- 
thoring software will select the proper 



codec without your even having to 
think about it. And with DivX, you 
can stretch your storage media a lot 
further, if you can live with lesser 
compatibility in DVD players. 

However, if you like to edit footage, 
and there's a possibility you'll want to 
rework it someday, then it's best to 
archive it in its original form: uncom- 
pressed AVI or MOV files. In that 
case, you'll probably want to pack 
your computer with high-volume 
hard drives. 

Sharing. Again, DVD wins out for 
distribution among family and friends. 
However, if you have a small amount 
of footage, and nobody's overly fussy 
about quality, MPEG-1 on a VCD will 
do the trick. 

Online. Here the choices become 
less clear-cut. Because Windows ma- 
chines have the dominant market 
share, using WMV will keep support 
and compatibility issues to a min- 
imum. MPEG-1 also enjoys universal 
compatibility for downloads. But if su- 
perior quality is a priority, QuickTime 
has the edge. If you choose WMV or 
QuickTime, it would be a good idea to 
also post a link to download the ap- 
propriate player for users of the 
non-native platform. 

More Bandwidth, Please 

Of course, as high-speed Internet 
connections continue to replace dial- 
up, the efficiency/quality trade-offs 
will diminish in importance, and 
high-quality video will seem as nat- 
ural online as it does on DVDs. On 
the other hand, as high-definition 
video gradually becomes the broad- 
cast standard, it will redefine what 
looks good and what looks merely ac- 
ceptable, so we'll always be hunting 
for ways to wring the most quality out 
of what we have. 

With digital video, like nearly 
all technology, the only constant 
is change. \m\ 

by Brian Hodge 



156 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Operating System Files 



Windows 98 Files 

OS More Evolution Than Revolution 




Windows 98 did not 
generate nearly the 
excitement of its pre- 
decessor, Windows 
95, when it launched. 
This incarnation of Microsoft's crown 
jewel represented an evolutionary step 
in the Windows OS (operating 
system), a more stable release meant 
to fix many of the areas in which 
users found Win95 lacking. Win98 
featured a first for Microsoft: tight in- 
tegration with the company's Internet 
product offerings, namely the Inter- 
net Explorer browser. 

Netscape's Web browser ruled the 
Internet during the early to mid-'90s. 
Microsoft enjoyed little success with its 
first attempts to establish a beachhead 
in cyberspace with IE, and Netscape 
captured an overwhelming market 
share. Bill Gates realized his company's 
inward focus during the development 
and release of Win95 caused Microsoft 
to be a late arrival at the Internet ball. 
In fact, many Microsoft antagonists felt 
the company had missed the Internet 
bandwagon and would never catch up. 
Of course, history proved quite dif- 
ferent, but that is another story. 

Most people chose Win98 during 
the Y2K scare in the last part of the 



decade, when Microsoft and countless 
other software companies scrambled 
to patch up software so it would not 
fail when the 2000 rollover took place. 
As a result, Microsoft released a couple 
of major Y2K patches for Win98. 

What Win98 lacked in terms of rev- 
olutionary, "eye-candy" appeal, it 
made up for under the hood. Al- 
though the OS did not catch fire in 
the corporate world, consumers ea- 
gerly upgraded to the new OS, seeking 
a more stable alternative to the now 
mature, yet flawed, Win95. Indeed, 
many Microsoft critics exclaimed that 
Win98 was the OS Win95 should 
have been from the very beginning. 

Patch Job 

In spite of Win98's improved stability 
over Win95, Microsoft still issued nu- 
merous patches, bug fixes, and updates 
to enhance its latest generation OS. 

In fact, Microsoft released Win98 
Second Edition to consolidate many of 
the enhancements that trickled into the 
marketplace during Win98's lifetime. 
Users could download from the Web 
many of the enhancements found in 
Win98 SE. However, Microsoft added 
a few tweaks exclusive to Win98 SE. 

If you still use Win98, you should be 
cognizant of the updates released by 
Microsoft during the product's life- 
time, especially when you consider that 
Microsoft released the updates and 
patches to shore up security deficien- 
cies exploited by hackers. You should 
also learn about the OS files that keep 
your system humming. 

Win98 File Zoo 

As you might imagine, Win98 shares 
many features with Win95. In fact, both 



OSes share the same general file types 
needed to keep a Windows OS func- 
tioning properly, for the most part. For 
example, DLLs (dynamic-link libraries) 
still play a crucial role in providing 
Win98 with the functionality it needs to 
deliver a versatile set of services. 

The sheer number of files, however, 
changed to support the Win98 installa- 
tion. Although a Win95 install on a 
clean hard drive requires only 70MB to 
90MB of space, a Win98 install, ac- 
cording to Microsoft, requires any- 
where from 165MB to 355MB of disk 
space on a FAT16 (file allocation table; 
Win98 supports both FAT16 and 
FAT32 file systems, and for a large, 
multigigabyte hard drive, FAT16 
wastes more space due to the larger de- 
fault cluster size) hard drive. The user 
pays a price for Win98's greater versa- 
tility and broader software and hard- 
ware support while supporting 
backward compatibility, and that price 
is a larger installation. 

DLL, EXE & Friends 

Win98 and other programs designed 
for the Windows environment need the 
DLL for many programs and services. A 
DLL file contains information another 
program needs to run properly. 

For example, a DLL file may have 
additional functions for another pro- 
gram's code to call upon as the pro- 
gram runs. DLLs let programmers call 
functions from within code instead of 
having to create these functions from 
scratch. In essence, DLLs contain 
modular code that is reusable. Truly a 
cornerstone of modularized program- 
ming, libraries provide programmers 
with precoded functions that enhance 
the functionality of applications 
without requiring the programmer to 
invent that functionality every time 
it's needed. Microsoft coded this ap- 
proach within the Windows Win32 
API. DLLs can also contain data, such 
as icons, that enhance the function- 
ality of other programs. 

Because Win98 provides greater ver- 
satility and hardware support, it simply 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 157 



\^ Operating System Files 



Windows 98 Lineage 



As with Windows 95, Microsoft re- 
leased a number of patches and 
updates during Windows 98's lifetime. 
As we've mentioned, Microsoft even 
released a retail Second Edition of 
Win98 to incorporate the many up- 
dates and fixes into one package. The 
two principal releases of Win98, the 
version numbers, and release dates are 
Win98 Retail, OEM, 4.10.1998, 5/11/98 
and Win98 SE, 4.10.2222A, 4/23/99. 

Microsoft posted many free up- 
dates on its Web site between these 
two releases and also beyond the re- 
lease of Win98 SE. Several of these up- 
dates are critical as they patch up 
security holes exploited by hackers 
intent on compromising the security 
of Microsoft systems. 

To find information on the current 
list of Win98 patches and updates, go 
to www.microsoft.com/windows98 
/down loads/corporate.asp. 
Microsoft's Windows Update Web 
site presents you with a long list of 
updates and enhancements for the 
Win98 architecture. 

Microsoft divides these updates 
into two categories: Critical and 
Recommended. Critical updates fix 
security holes in Win98. For example, 
one particularly serious glitch let a 
malicious user run a program on your 
computer by falsely signing digital 
certificates with "Microsoft 
Corporation." Between April 21, 1999, 
and April 2, 2001, Microsoft released 
13 critical and security updates for 
Win98andWin98SE. 

requires more DLL files (among 
others) to run properly. For example, 
an examination of a Win98 CD-ROM 
reveals a Win98 folder with 71 CAB 
(cabinet; the file compression format 
Microsoft uses to distribute its software 
files) files, packing more than 100MB 
of content. In contrast, a Win95 instal- 
lation CD-ROM contains 30 CAB files 
totaling 45MB within the Win95 
folder. Even if all of these options are 



So what exactly did Win98 SE bring 
to the table? After all, many users felt 
a bit miffed about having to purchase 
a new shrink-wrapped version of the 
OS to gain new functionality. 
Microsoft gave away many of the fea- 
tures included in the SE as free down- 
loads from its Web site. Some of 
Win98 SE's enhancements include: 

• DirectX 6.1 

• Dial Up Networking V. 1.3 

• Microsoft Data Access 
Components v. 2.1 

• Internet Connection Sharing 

• Collection of all Y2K updates 
and patches 

Interestingly enough, Microsoft 
did not offer Internet Connection 
Sharing as a free download, so to 
obtain this functionality you must 
purchase Win98 SE. In spite of the 
cost, Win98 SE is a quick way to col- 
lect all patches and updates released 
by Microsoft up to that time, plus a 
few extra goodies to boot. If you 
don't relish spending hours 
browsing the Microsoft Web site 
looking for updates and are willing 
to pay for this privilege, Win98 SE is 
for you. However, keep in mind 
Microsoft did release patches after 
the release of the SE, so purchasing 
this does not get you off the 
updates hook. 

For more information please refer 
to the Microsoft Knowledge Base 
Article Q234762. I 



not installed, the sheer size of the install 
has ballooned considerably. 

The same applies to the other file 
types used by the OS to function. 
Win98 packs more virtual and device 
drivers, EXE (executable) files, and 
other support files than Win95. 

For example, new devices have pro- 
liferated since Win98 came into the 
marketplace, notably USB (Universal 
Serial Bus) devices. The USB port, for 



the most part, replaced the venerable 
serial and parallel ports and ushered in 
a generation of traditional devices, such 
as printers, joysticks, and scanners, en- 
gineered to take advantage of USB's in- 
creased bandwidth and extensibility. 

The tight integration between 
Microsoft's Internet product offerings 
and Win98 meant other file types re- 
lated to the Internet would expand 
within the Windows directory. For ex- 
ample, IE Favorites, cookies, history, 
and other files generated from Internet 
browsing are part of the Win98 system 
directory structure. This adds size and 
complexity to the directory structure 
in which the OS resides. 

What You Can (& Should) Delete 

Each file stored within the Windows 
folder should be considered, in general, 
important. However, you can delete 
some files stored within the Windows 
directory structure. In fact, if hard 
drive space is at a premium, periodi- 
cally delete some of these files. 

For example, Win98, as its prede- 
cessor did, creates a variety of files 
with a .TMP (temporary) extension. 
During the course of operations, 
Windows creates these TMP files 
with the various software types you 
may have running on your system. 

A word processing application, 
such as Microsoft Word, creates a 
few temporary files as you work with 
the program. You can safely delete 
these files, unless Windows itself or 
another application happens to be 
using one of these files. 

If you wish to delete every single 
TMP file you can get your hands on 
and don't want to be kept from doing 
so by Windows, reboot into command 
mode by clicking Start, Shutdown, and 
selecting Restart In MS-DOS Mode. 
Once you are in MS-DOS mode, type 
cd \windows\temp at the command 
prompt and then type del *.tmp. 

Temporary file extensions can also 
be *.~*; the tilde (~) symbol preceding 
the remaining two characters in the ex- 
tension means this is a temporary file 



158 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Operating System Files 



Directories To Know 



' he critical directories within the C:/Windows directory containing many of 
Windows 98's fundamental pieces include: 



/Command 


contains MS-DOS commands 


/System 


contains drivers, VxDs, and printer drivers 


/System/losubsys 


contains I/O subsys, including the drivers needed by 
the IO Subsystem manager 


/System/Shellext 


contains shell extensions 


/System/Vmm32 


contains VxDs added after installation 


/System/Viewers 


contains viewers for various file types 


/Inf 


contains setup and installation files 


/Java/Classes 


contains Java files 



that can be deleted. Other files safe to 
delete include those with the extension 
.OLD, .BAK, .PRV, .LOG, or .BKP. 
These archival files typically contain 
information the system no longer uses. 
For example, if you've installed 
some new software or hardware that 
modified your Autoexec.bat file, the 
application may have archived the 
Autoexec.bat in use before the change 
and called it Autoexec.bak. If you are 
certain you will not go back to your 
initial Autoexec.bat file, you can 
delete that file. Many applications do 
this with various system files so you 



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3Chciice.com 


3start.exe 


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GSubst.exe 


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Zl Svs.com 


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3Extract.exe 




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3Find.exe 


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3Label.exe 




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3Mode.com 




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3Move.exe 




ZjMscdex.exe 





The Command subfolder of the Windows 
folder contains some of the useful DOS 
utilities, such as ScanDisk, that work to 
keep your PC in tip-top shape. 



may have a number of these archival 
files residing in your hard drive. 

With any Win9x system, you will 
periodically (or frequently, depending 
on the current health of your system) 
experience system crashes. When this 
happens and you are forced to exit 
your current session after attempts to 
close down a misbehaving application 
fail, Windows immediately launches a 
ScanDisk session, by default, when 
you reboot. 

During that process, ScanDisk may 
tell you it has found data (ScanDisk calls 
this data "file fragments" or "lost clus- 
ters") that may or may not be impor- 
tant. At that point, ScanDisk asks you if 
you wish to save the data so you can 
look at it later. If you choose to save the 
data, ScanDisk takes the information 
and stores it in a file with a .CHK exten- 
sion. Unless you are absolutely certain 
these files contain important data from 
your aborted session, delete them. 

Depending on the number of appli- 
cations you had running when your 
computer crashed, these files may con- 
sume large amounts of space. If you 
crash often, these files occupy too 
much valuable disk real estate without 
serving any purpose (unless, of course, 
you actually take the time to see what's 
contained in them). ScanDisk stores 
these files in the root directory of the 
system boot disk, so in most cases, you 
can find them in the C: drive. 

Finally, Windows places several 
files with the .TXT extension within 



the Windows directory. These files are 
strictly informational and contain the 
latest information about the Windows 
OS to supplement Windows' formal 
documentation. Unless you feel com- 
pelled to keep these files, delete them. 
These files include License.txt (the fa- 
mous Microsoft license agreement), 
Printers.txt, and Mouse.txt. 

What You Can't Delete 

As with Win95, the Windows and 
boot drive root folders contain many 
files critical to the well being of a 
Win98 installation. Win98 is back- 
ward compatible, not just with Win95 
but also with the MS-DOS/Windows 
3.x world of 16-bit computing and 
Autoexec.bat and Win.ini files. 

To maintain this backward compat- 
ibility, Win98 installs many of the 
usual suspects that support this type 
of legacy computing: Autoexec.bat, 
Config.sys, Win.ini, and System.ini. If 
you still run applications or use hard- 
ware that needs these files to run 
properly, don't delete these files. 

Win98 also enhanced the Windows 
startup disk to provide more options 
when an emergency arises. If you cre- 
ated a startup disk during the installa- 
tion of your system, then your 
Q/WINDOWS/COMMAND directory 
houses some of the files needed to 
create an emergency startup disk. Some 
of these files include real mode Adaptec 
CD-ROM drivers, of the type Aspi*.sys, 
as well as handy utilities such as fdisk, 
Himem.sys, and critical boot files, such 
as Io.sys and Msdos.sys. 

If these files are contained in your 
C:/WINDOWS/COMMAND direc- 
tory, you've already gone through the 
process of creating a startup floppy 
diskette. Storing these files within this 
directory keeps you from having to 
reach for your Win98 CD-ROM if you 
should need to create another startup 
disk. If you chose not to create a 
startup disk during the Win98 installa- 
tion, Windows asks you to supply your 
installation CD-ROM if you create a 
startup disk using the Control Panel. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 159 



(f^ Operating System Files 



Win98 is an evolutionary 
change to the Windows lineage, 
so Command.com and Io.sys 
still play crucial roles dur- 
ing the boot process and are 
needed during the early stages 
of the boot process when the 
BIOS (Basic Input/Output Sys- 
tem) passes control to the GUI 
(graphical user interface). 
Io.sys, the system boot loader, 
takes control from the BIOS 
and transfers it to Win98. The 
Io.sys file uses another file, 
Msdos.sys, to locate critical in- 
formation needed during the 
boot process, such as the loca- 
tion of the main Windows files 

(usually in C:/WINDOWS) needed 
to continue the installation. 

Win98 also needs the two files that 
launch the system from real to pro- 
tected mode, Win.com and Vmm32 
.vxd. As with Win95, these two files 
work in tandem to give control of the 
system to the 32-bit Win98 graphical 
OS. Again, treat these with the utmost 
care and do not delete or corrupt 
them. They are needed to maintain a 
functional system. 

New Developments 

So, what's different in Win98? As 
we discussed, many changes in Win98 
added support for new types of hard- 
ware while others came as improve- 
ments to the Win95 OS. Let's discuss 
some of these changes and talk about 
important files, new or modified. 

Win98 provides support for USB- 
capable devices by using the HID 
(Human Interface Device) class 
driver. This driver, Hidclass.sys, 
bridges the gap between input/output 
peripherals (such as mice and key- 
boards) that connect via USB ports 
and the traditional WDM (Win32 
Driver Model) drivers that support 
these devices (such as Vmd.vxd and 
Vkd.vxd). Component specific dri- 
vers facilitate communication be- 
tween the "legacy" drivers and this 
class of driver. 



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download the updates and patches. 



The USB port, meanwhile, commu- 
nicates with the class driver via a 
minidriver called Hidusb .sys; in the 
WDM, minidrivers ease communica- 
tion between hardware and the class 
drivers. By implementing class drivers, 
Microsoft builds the fundamental 
functionality needed for devices to 
communicate with the OS into Win- 
dows. So, driver writers just have to 
worry about writing minidrivers that 
focus on hardware-specific function- 
ality for their devices. 

Two other important files to this 
model are Hid.dll and Hidparse.sys; 
these support files help communica- 
tions in this multilayered driver model. 

Win98 unified the driver models be- 
tween Windows NT and Win98. Essen- 
tially, drivers written for Win98 work in 
future versions of WinNT. This may 
have been the first step in Microsoft's 
efforts to eventually merge Win9x and 
WinNT into a single platform. 

At any rate, Ntkern.vxd provides 
this bridging functionality between 
the Win9x and WinNT worlds. This 
virtualization driver mimics the NT 
kernel within the Win98 architecture 
and permits developers to write dri- 
vers for a single platform. 

Microsoft released a couple of up- 
dates for Win98 that address the Y2K 
problem. These releases all addressed 
fairly minor Y2K glitches that resulted 
in the display of incorrect dates as the 



user interacted with Windows. 
Files changed by this update in- 
clude Comctl32.dll (a date/time 
picker control), Actpmnt.ocx 
(Microsoft Wallet control), Io.sys, 
and Msdadc.dh7Msdade.dll (MS 
Access OLE DB components). 
For more information on Y2K 
updates for Win98, go to the 
Microsoft Knowledge Base (sup- 
port. microsoft. com), choose 
Windows 98 in the Top Solution 
Centers sidebar on the left of the 
Web page and search for Y2K. 

As with Win95, Win98 features 
three core components that sup- 
port a lot of the fundamentals: 
— Kernel.dll, User.dll, and Gdi.dll. 
All of these core components provide 
both 32-bit and 16-bit compatibility 
for their services. 

As in Win95, some of the services 
provided by these three important 
files include execution thread man- 
agement, user input and output 
management, and graphics services 
for devices such as printers and 
monitors. Treat these files with the 
utmost care, as they provide key, 
fundamental services needed by 
Win98 to function. 

Not Far From The Tree 

Clearly, the enhancements for the 
Win98SE OS came in the form of 
better or new support for computing 
hardware standards. Win98 ushered in 
better USB support, for example, and 
added support for new hardware stan- 
dards such as IEEE 1394 (Fire Wire) 
and OnNow (power management). 

Win98 features tighter integration 
between the OS and the Inter- 
net features Microsoft offers, such 
as Outlook, IE, and NetMeeting. 
Whatever the stance you might 
have regarding Microsoft's OS and 
Internet strategies, Microsoft's ap- 
proach in Win98 was to make many 
of these features an integral part of 
the operating system, [jjf] 

by Sixto Ortiz Jr. 



160 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Operating System Files 



Windows Me 

Upgrade Introduces Better System Protection 




When Microsoft first released 
Windows Me, both users 
and critics showed their 
displeasure. Many experts called it 
an incremental upgrade with few 
system improvements, and nu- 
merous users reported serious up- 
grade difficulties. Years later some 
people still feel that WinMe ranks 
among the weaker operating systems 
from Microsoft. Still, the early bugs 
associated with it have been largely 
eradicated and drivers have been 
written to enhance its compatibility 
with older peripherals. 

Upon closer inspection one sees 
that WinMe offers considerably more 
than users might expect, given the 
negative sentiment that initially sur- 
rounded it. This is particularly true 
for purchasers of (then) new PCs, 
who experienced none of the upgrade 
frustrations that plagued users of 
older Windows versions. 

If they have not yet done so, ex- 
isting users of WinMe should visit 
Microsoft's OS (operating system) 
update site at www.microsoft.com 
/windowsme/default.asp to down- 
load the patches Microsoft has re- 
leased for the product. 



Major Developments 

WinMe offers noticeable improve- 
ment in two areas: multimedia/gaming 
and systems protection. (Microsoft 
refers to it as "PC Health.") Designed to 
provide the sizzle for this OS, the multi- 
media enhancements give WinMe a 
more hip image than previous versions. 

For the first time, Windows incor- 
porated a wide variety of tools to as- 
sist users in taking and processing 
digital images, making movies, re- 
cording and listening to audio, and 
playing advanced (even 3D) games — 
right out of the box. 

The system health features, on the 
other hand, were the steak to comple- 
ment the multimedia enhancement 
sizzle. Microsoft incorporated into 
the new release utilities that make it 
difficult for users to delete important 
system files and that restore those files 
if they happen to get deleted. More 
than two halves of a gustatory 
analogy, however, these seemingly 
unrelated improvements work to- 
gether to make WinMe a reality. 
Advanced multimedia capabilities re- 
quire an enormous amount of com- 
puter code, as well as the ability for 
the system to interoperate with a wide 
variety of third-party vendors. 

It takes a complex OS to accomplish 
this depth of function and interactivity. 
The OS must maintain intricate hierar- 
chies among dozens (and sometimes 
hundreds) of file types. Consequently, 
files that might seem innocuous (and 
unnecessary) to a user could actually 
play an important role in maintaining 
the delicate balance of the system. 

Without robust system protection 
features, simply deleting an icon file 
could upset this balance. In WinMe, 
more than in any previous version, 



safeguards prevent disruption and re- 
store harmony if problems occur. 

Does this mean you cannot delete 
any of the files in your WinMe instal- 
lation? Of course not; you can delete 
plenty of files. WinMe, a space hog 
with all the options running at full-tilt 
boogie and Movie Maker installed, 
can consume nearly 2GB of space on 
your hard drive (depending on your 
choices and peripherals). WinMe 
takes an "all things for all people" ap- 
proach, so you can delete a number of 
files and features to customize the 
system to your liking (and save valu- 
able hard drive space in the process). 

WinMe's system protection fea- 
tures mean that an improper deletion 
is less likely than with prior Windows 
versions. If you do remove something 
you shouldn't, your system should re- 
cover quickly. Unfortunately, it also 
means that unnecessary files can be 
hard to identify, especially ones stored 
in important system folders. 

This is particularly true for users who 
have upgraded to WinMe. Often, old 
drivers and files that were used by 
deleted programs and obsolete periph- 
erals clutter up a hard drive and eat up 
needed space. In the upcoming section, 
we'll discuss (and define) the major file 
types found in WinMe. Then, we'll tell 
you which files you can definitely 
delete. Finally, we'll arm you with insid- 
er's secrets for safely eliminating un- 
needed components whose files you 
will not be able to identify on your own. 

The File Drawer 

As we mentioned earlier, the size of 
your WinMe installation can vary 
based on your setup. Even with a min- 
imal setup (no network, printer, or 
digital camera), assume that WinMe 
has loaded thousands of files onto your 
hard drive, many with replacements if 
you are upgrading. On our test system, 
the Windows folder alone consumed 
more than 800MB of hard drive space 
and consisted of more than 5,000 files. 
Remember, complexity and depth of 
function come at a necessary price. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 161 



(f^) Operating System Files 



Among these thousands of files, 
WinMe installs more than 100 file 
types, but only around a dozen make 
up the vast majority of the system fries. 
A two- or three-character file name ex- 
tension tells Windows what type of file 
it is and what it does. Windows nor- 
mally hides file name extensions, but 
you can view them if you change your 
settings in the Control Panel. To do so 
select Settings and then Control Panel 
from the Start menu, select Folder 
Options, click the View tab, and clear 
the checkbox titled Hide File Exten- 
sions For Known File Types. Click OK 
to view file extensions. 

BAK. Backup files are copies of a 
file made as a safeguard before a new 
one replaced the file. Many programs 
routinely make BAK files as part of 
their autosave procedure. You can 
delete backup files that are more than 
30 days old, provided your system op- 
erates normally. If you want to be 
extra cautious, only delete BAK files 
more than six months old. 

BAT. Batch files contain groups of 
commands that programs process in 
sequential order. They are left over 
from the early days of DOS, the OS 
that preceded Windows. Certain pro- 
grams still use the files, and they 
should not be deleted. 

BIN. Binary files are never converted 
into a format the user can read. Pro- 
grams in the course of their operation 
use these files. Do not delete BIN files. 

BMP. A type of graphics (image) 
file, a bit map is used in a variety of 
ways. A bit map, for example, is one 
file type used for Desktop wallpaper. 
If BMP files are stored in a program 
or system folder (such as C:\WIN- 
DOWS), they are probably important 
enough to leave alone. If they are in a 
user folder (such as My Documents), 
you can delete them. 

CAB. Cabinet files are compressed, 
generally larger files (like Zip files) 
that Microsoft designed to store the 
system files in Win98/Me. Used to ex- 
tract and restore missing files, cabinet 
files contain important information 
that your OS may need when system 



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problems occur. Users should not 
delete them. 

DAT. A data file in a specialized 
format, usually ASCII (American 
Standard Code for Information 
Interchange), DAT files store informa- 
tion as characters, rather than in binary 
format (Is and 0s) and is the most 
widely used (and most compatible) 
coding system in the world. Programs 
use DAT files to store information, so 
users should not delete these files. 

DLL. Dynamic-link library files are 
collections of commands, functions, 
or data. Some DLL files are specific to 
one application, but many are generic 
and are used by several apps at one 
time or another. Even though they are 
one of the worst sources of hard-drive 
clutter, DLLs are small and should 
not be removed by the user. 

EXE. This is the extension for exe- 
cutable files, such as programs. Many 
viruses also come attached to EXE 
files. You can delete EXE files as long 
as you know the program they repre- 
sent and are certain you do not want it 
on your system. When located in the 
Windows folder, these files represent 
system features, such as ScanDisk and 
NotePad, and should not be deleted 
directly by the user. (By "directly," we 
mean physically dragging the file to 
the Recycle Bin or right-clicking it and 
choosing Delete from the menu. In 



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most cases, you can delete EXE files by 
using utilities that come with WinMe. 
For more information, see the next 
section, "A Delicate Operation.") 

HTM. Hypertext Markup indicates 
a file saved in HTML (Hypertext 
Markup Language), the ubiquitous 
document format used on the World 
Wide Web. In early versions of Win- 
dows, HTM files were always ones the 
user had created or downloaded and 
could be safely deleted. However, 
with the addition of Active Desktop, 
many of the visual elements of 
Windows became HTM files. If these 
files are located in the Windows 
folder, they should not be deleted. 

INF. Programs use information 
text files, often found with scripts 
(similar to batch files), during setup. 
Although you can safely delete them 
in most cases, INF files are small and 
it is safest to leave them alone, espe- 
cially because they often contain 
uninstall information, as well. 

INI. Another holdover from the old 
days of DOS, INI stands for initializa- 
tion. Prior to the inception of the 
Windows Registry, these files stored 
configuration settings for programs. 
Your PC still needs INI files, even 
though they are technically obsolete, 
for backward compatibility. The most 
important INI files have historically 
been the System.ini and Win.ini files. 



162 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Operating System Files 



Windows Me File Tips 



View Hidden Files. By default 
WinMe erects "soft barriers," a 
process that hides files stored in 
system folders from view by the user. 
Instead of seeing a list of files in these 
cases, you will see a message indi- 
cating that the files are important 
and should not require modification. 
If you come across a folder in 
Windows Explorer that has a soft 
barrier, there will be an option on 
the screen, View The Entire Contents 
Of This Folder. Click it and the con- 
tents of the folder will be displayed. 
Change File Associations. WinMe 
automatically associates a file with 
the program in which it is written, 
assuming that program is located on 
your computer. If you store files from 
programs you do not currently have 
installed, or if you just want to "trick" 
WinMe into opening one file type 
with another program (for example, 
if you want WordPerfect files to al- 
ways open in Word), you can change 
the file associations for that partic- 
ular extension. From the Start menu, 
select Settings, Control Panel, and 
then Folder Options. Click the File 
Types tab, and WinMe will display all 
the known file types and with which 
programs they are associated. You 
can now add new file types or edit 
the programs associated with ex- 
isting ones by clicking the appro- 
priate button and navigating to the 
desired program association. I 

SYS. Short for system, these config- 
uration files control how hardware is 
loaded and operates. They perform a 
similar function to what INI files do 
for software. Again, they are holdovers 
from DOS. 

TXT. Text files indicate data that is 
stored without any formatting (such as 
type size and style). Text files are gener- 
ally included with a program to provide 
the user with important, late-breaking 
information. They almost always come 
on the installation disk or CD and 



quickly become obsolete once you in- 
stall the program. As long as you can 
access the installation media for a pro- 
gram and it has been running well for 
30 days or more, you can safely delete 
these files. With that said, keep in mind 
that these small files will not consume 
much space. When looking for TXT 
files to delete, pay attention to their 
names. For example, Setuptip.txt has 
information relating to the WinMe in- 
stallation and can definitely be deleted. 

VxD. This stands for virtual device 
driver, which is the format Win95/98/ 
Me use to enable communication be- 
tween PC devices, such as printers, 
and the software that interacts with 
them. Drivers handle translation be- 
tween devices and software. 

VxDs are drivers that have access to 
the OS kernel, which is the core of the 
system. This communication is crucial 
to system operation and takes place at 
a very basic level. Consequently, you 
should never delete VxD directly un- 
less you are specifically instructed to 
do so during a troubleshooting rou- 
tine. Corrupt or missing VxD files are 
a primary source of system problems 
and headaches for users. Superfluous 
or conflicting VxD files cause trouble, 
too. For help deleting unneeded VxD 
files, see the next section in this article. 

WAV. This old, uncompressed audio 
format stores and reproduces sound 
very accurately but consumes a lot of 
file space. Newer programs use the 
more efficient MPEG (Moving Pictures 
Experts Group) format, such as MP3. 
Windows still uses WAV files for its 
event sounds, such as the Windows 
chime, because they are short clips and 
therefore small files. If you delete WAV 
files, the program that uses them will 
not make the event sounds with which 
the deleted WAV files are associated. 

These files are very common in 
Windows (we found nearly 1,000 in 
WinMe), and some can be quite large. 
If you want to delete them to save 
space, we recommend creating a 
backup first, then restarting your com- 
puter to see if it runs normally If you 
encounter no problems for the next 30 



days, discard the backup. Be aware that 
WinMe may restore the files anyway, 
however, so the effort may be fruitless. 

A Delicate Operation 

Now that you have seen a few of the 
file types found in WinMe, and how 
few of them can be safely removed, 
you are probably wondering whether 
you can delete anything at all. 

In addition to the few safe deletions 
mentioned above, you can also delete 
a wealth of unnecessary files using the 
tools provided in Windows. In these 
cases you will instruct the system what 
to delete, and it will locate and ex- 
punge from the system all the files re- 
lating to that item. There are other 
files, not listed here, which you should 
delete on a regular basis, as well. 

You can delete files in Windows 
through several methods: empty the 
Recycle Bin, have Windows identify 
and purge unneeded files, remove or 
downsize installed components or 
programs, remove unused devices and 
backup files, and directly delete files as 
discussed earlier. The final option is 
the least secure, so we will cover it last. 

Delete files in the Recycle Bin. 
Windows keeps files in the Recycle 
Bin in reserve until you empty it. This 
can waste a lot of space. 

To empty the bin, right-click the 
Recycle Bin icon on your Desktop and 
select Empty Recycle Bin from the 
pop-up menu. After that, right-click 
the bin and select Properties. Here you 
determine how much of your hard 
drive you want to allocate for Recycle 
Bin storage and choose to have files 
placed in the bin deleted immediately. 

Delete unneeded files. WinMe pro- 
vides an excellent tool, called Disk 
Cleanup, to locate and purge unneces- 
sary files that collect over time on your 
hard drive. These include TMP (tem- 
porary) files (that programs place on 
the hard drive during operation), 
downloaded program setup files that 
you no longer need after installing the 
program, and temporary Internet files 
that maintain a history of your 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 163 



(f^) Operating System Files 



browsing operations. They also include 
PC Health files, short-term backup 
files WinMe uses to protect the system. 

To access this utility, select Programs 
from the Start menu, Accessories, 
System Tools, and Disk Cleanup. Select 
the drive to process and check the types 
of files you wish to delete. (You can 
also empty the Recycle Bin here.) 

You should always delete temporary 
files and PC Health files. You can also 
delete temporary Internet files, but be 
advised that this will empty your 
Internet cache. This means you will not 
be able to browse offline Web pages 
that you previously viewed (unless you 
visit them again while you are online). 
Once you have chosen the file types to 
delete, select OK and answer Yes to the 
confirmation prompt. WinMe will then 
remove the files from your system. 

Delete or downsize components 
and programs. Return to the Disk 
Cleanup tool, but this time select the 
More Options tab. Here, you can 
choose to delete Windows compo- 
nents that you do not use (the first 
option) or programs that you do not 
want (the second option). 

You can also alter the amount of 
hard drive storage allocated to System 
Restore. This nifty utility takes a snap- 
shot (called a Restore Point) of the 
system every 24 hours, after 10 hours of 
nonstop operation, or whenever you 
add or remove hardware. In the event 
of a system failure, System Restore 
comes to the rescue and returns your 
system to its previous, working state. 

This valuable tool is greedy; by de- 
fault it consumes 12% of your hard 
drive space to create numerous, con- 
secutive Restore Points until it fills up 
the space. If you have a large hard 
drive, move the slider bar down so the 
allocation is no more than 500MB. You 
can disable this System Restore com- 
pletely, but we do not recommend it. 

Remove obsolete devices and 
backups. If you have installed hard- 
ware devices, such as printers or scan- 
ners, that you removed from the 
setup but did not uninstall properly, 
you should remove them from your 



system to eliminate extraneous VxDs 
and DLLs. Also remove any software 
associated with those devices if you 
no longer use it. 

From the Start menu, select Set- 
tings, Control Panel, and double- 
click the System icon. Click the 
Device Manager tab. Click the menu 
items to expand them; if necessary, 
look for the obsolete device and click 
it. Select Remove to eliminate the de- 
vice and its drivers from your system. 
Click OK. If you accidentally remove 
a valid device, WinMe reinstalls it 
upon startup and may require the in- 
stallation media. 



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Disk Cleanup is Microsoft's recommended 
method for deleting unneeded files. 

Now, select the Add/Remove Pro- 
grams icon and look for the software 
you installed with this device. Remove 
it if desired. This is the same menu you 
saw in the previous operation. 

From this menu those who up- 
graded from a previous version of 
Windows may also be able to delete 
another space hog: the files that let you 
restore the previous version. Do not 
remove these files until you are certain 
you will keep WinMe as your OS. 

Delete files directly. A risky process, 
deleting files directly should be per- 
formed only after proper preparation. 
In Win95/98, this meant performing 
full system and Registry backups be- 
fore you began. WinMe greatly de- 
pends on System Restore to come to 
the rescue in the event of system 
failure after file deletion. 



With that in mind, create a Restore 
Point immediately before you begin 
deleting files. Go to the Start Menu 
and select Programs, Accessories, 
System Tools, and Restore Point. 
Click the option to Create A Restore 
Point and follow the prompts. 

The easiest way to find files you can 
delete is by using WinMe's file search 
feature. From the Start menu, select 
Search and For Files Or Folders. In the 
dialog box titled Search For Files Or 
Folders Named, type an asterisk (*) fol- 
lowed by a period and the file exten- 
sion that for which you wish to search. 
The asterisk signals Windows to find all 
files with that extension. 

Start with TMP, as there may be a 
number of temporary files Disk 
Cleanup missed. Then proceed to 
BAK, TXT, and if you are really 
crunched for space (or feeling adven- 
turous), BMP, EXE, HTM, or WAV. 

Right-click the files you decide to 
delete and select Delete. Remember not 
to delete files unless they are at least 30 
days old and, in the case of HTM, 
WAV, and BMP, you are fairly confi- 
dent they are not critical. (The name 
and folder should give this away.) 

If you attempt to delete any system 
or program files, Windows requires 
you to respond to a confirmation 
prompt. Consider your decision care- 
fully before you proceed. 

Clean Condition 

When you have completed your 
deletions, restart your computer and 
make sure everything is running 
properly. If you deleted essential 
files, System Restore will return your 
computer to the point when you per- 
formed your last Restore Point (as- 
suming you did not accidentally 
delete the System Restore files). If 
System Restore eradicates your 
changes, it's a sign that you should 
be a bit more conservative the next 
time you feel like pressing the 
DELETE key. [n] 

by Jennifer Farwell 



164 www.smartcomputlng.com / Working With PC Files 



l£j Operating System Files 



Windows 2< 






OS Shares Features With Its Predecessors 




The Windows 2000 series of 
products from Microsoft would 
have, if the company had kept 
the older numbering scheme, been 
Windows NT 5. Microsoft released a 
number of individual components of 
the Win2000 series. 

Win2000 Professional. This single- 
computer, workstation version may 
run as a standalone product or the 
client OS (operating system) for a 
single workstation in a network of 
computers. You might run this at 
home or in a small/home business 
with a small peer-to-peer network. 

Win2000 Server. Designed for large 
client/server networks, this is what 
you would install on a central server 
computer that then doles out data 
and applications to individual work- 
stations. Win2000 Server can also be 
used as an Internet server. You might 
run this in a small business with a 
client/server network. 

Win2000 Advanced Server. If you 
have a larger operation and need scal- 
ability and clustering, this is the ver- 
sion of Win2000 Server that Microsoft 
recommends. You might run this in a 
small to medium-sized business with 
small distributed networks. 

Win2000 Datacenter Server. For 
large volume, real-time, transaction 



processing, large databases, and other 
large enterprise network needs, busi- 
nesses choose this version of Win2000. 
It's what you'd run in a enterprise with 
large distributed networks (think bank). 
For the purposes of this article, we're 
going to focus on Win2000 Professional 
for the Intel platform, English version, 
not one a computer manufacturer 
modified. We'll try to figure out what 
changes Win2000 will bring to your op- 
erating environment if you're up- 
grading from one of the consumer 
versions of Windows (such as Windows 
Me or Windows 98 Second Edition). 

A Nice Mix 

One of the first things you'll notice 
when you've finished installing 
Win2000 Pro is that its look and feel is 
a combination of WinMe and Win98 
SE. Although Windows NT 4 finally 
got the same front end as Windows 
95, Win2000 takes that transition one- 
and-a-half steps further. Let's look at 
the Win98 part first and take the Start 
menu Programs list as an example. As 
with Win98 you can sort the names al- 
phabetically by right-clicking any- 
where on the menu. You may also 
(again by right-clicking) drag any 
menu item and either move it or copy 
it to the Taskbar or Desktop. 

Icons on the Desktop and in many 
programs' file menus can behave like 
browser links and be invoked with 
one click. 

The "half is that elements, such as 
Control Panel, now look much as 
they do in WinMe, complete with 
showing only some default items — 
and after a period of use, only those 
you regularly invoke — in a list, in- 
stead of showing all items, all the 
time, as large or small icons. The 



Add/Remove Programs applet is en- 
tirely the same layout as found in 
WinMe. This mixture of new and old 
is found throughout Win2000. 

Another example: System Informa- 
tion (found by going to the Start menu, 
Programs, Accessories, and System 
Tools) in Win2000 is nearly identical to 
the same tool found in Win98 SE, not 
the slower version in WinMe. But an- 
other of WinMe's System Tools, System 
Restore, which lets you "roll back" your 
system to an earlier state in case some- 
thing goes wrong after you install new 
hardware or software, is missing en- 
tirely. That won't show up unless you 
migrate to Windows XP Professional. 

Compatibility & Component Support 

General reports about Win2000 in- 
dicate that it supports more models 
and types of hardware (scanners and 
cameras, for example) than WinNT 
but not as many as the consumer ver- 
sions of Windows. 

Because it is built on the WinNT 
core, which has a much stricter security 
model and therefore doesn't like soft- 
ware that takes direct control of hard- 
ware, for example, not all software runs 
well under Win2000, either. As with 
WinMe, Win2000 doesn't have a native 
DOS mode. You can open programs in 
DOS windows, but being able to boot 
directly to the DOS command line is a 
thing of the past. Some DOS applica- 
tions will not run under Win2000. 

You can find out what hardware 
components and software applications 
are compatible with Win2000 by going 
online to www.microsoft.com/win 
dows2000. Point at How To Buy in the 
left menu and click Upgrading to 
Windows 2000. Click Professional in 
the center menu bar, and the informa- 
tion you need will appear at the 
bottom of the page. 



Programs From A To Z 

As with WinNT 4, Microsoft claims 
there is no central place where a full 
list of the files installed in a Win2000 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 165 



(f^) Operating System Files 



computer can be found. "There are 
thousands of them," said a spokes- 
person, "and it's impossible to guess 
which would be installed on any given 
computer because there is no typical 
installation. The files would depend 
on the individual hardware compo- 
nents in the system, the software al- 
ready in the system, and which of the 
Windows 2000 components each indi- 
vidual chooses to install." 

If there is actually such a list, ex- 
haustive searches of the Microsoft 
Knowledge Base and other resources, 
such as TechNet and the Microsoft 
Library, failed to find it in any pub- 
licly accessible location. 

That doesn't mean there isn't doc- 
umentation on the OS. You can find 
Win2000 product documentation for 



MS-DOS Commands 



You can no longer boot to a DOS 
command line (unless you use an 
older version of Windows to create a 
floppy boot disk, but that's another 
topic), but you can still run some DOS 
services. You can find a full list at 
www.microsoft.com/windows2000/en 
/professional/help. But you're also cor- 
rect if you've heard that the version 
shipping in Windows 2000 isn't your 
father's DOS. 

For example, these Win2000 com- 
mands aren't in older versions of DOS: 

at — Schedules commands and pro- 
grams to run on a computer at a speci- 
fied time and date. 

cacls — Displays or modifies ACLs 
(access control lists) of files. 

convert — Converts file systems from 
FAT (file allocation table) or FAT32 to 
NTFS (NT file system). 

dosonly — Prevents starting applica- 
tions other than MS-DOS-based applica- 
tions from the command.com prompt. 

echoconfig — Displays messages 
when reading the MS-DOS subsystem 
Config.nt file. 

endlocal — Ends localization of envi- 
ronment variables. 

findstr — Searches for text in files 
using regular expressions. 



all Windows versions by going to 
www.microsoft.com/technet, 
pointing at IT Solutions in the left 
menu, then Indexs, and clicking 
Product Documentation. 

In one of those searches, however, 
we did find a list of the programs that 
you can install in Win2000. They in- 
clude, in alphabetical order: 

Address Book. Installed by default. 
Found at Start, Programs, Acces- 
sories. According to Microsoft's doc- 
umentation, it's "a convenient place 
to store contact information for easy 
retrieval from programs such as 
Outlook, Outlook Express, Internet 
Explorer, Net-Meeting, and Microsoft 
Phone System." 

Backup. Installed by default. Found 
at Start, Programs, Accessories, System 



ntcmdprompt — Runs the Win2000 
command interpreter, Cmd.exe, 
rather than Command.com after run- 
ning a TSR (terminate-and-stay- 
resident program) or after starting the 
command prompt from within an 
MS-DOS application. 

popd — Changes to the directory last 
set with the pushd command. 

pushd — Saves the current directory 
for use by the popd command and 
then changes to the specified directory. 

setlocal — Begins localization of envi- 
ronmental variables. 

start — Runs a specified program or 
command in a secondary window and 
in its own memory space. 

Title — Sets the title of the 
command prompt window. 

&& — Command following 
this symbol runs only if the command 
preceding the symbol succeeds. 

|| — Command following this symbol 
runs only if the command preceding 
the symbol fails. 

& — Separates multiple commands 
on the command line. 

( ) — Croups commands. 

A — Escape character. Allows typing 
command symbols as text. 

; or, — Separates parameters. 



Tools. This helps you create a copy of 
the data on your hard drive and creates 
an emergency repair disk. 

Calculator. Installed by default. 
Found at Start, Programs, Accessories. 
It can also perform advanced scientific 
and statistical calculations. 

CD Player. Installed by default. 
Found at Start, Programs, Accessor- 
ies, Entertainment. It starts auto- 
matically if AutoRun is set on the 
CD or DVD drive. Associated applet: 
Volume Control. 

Character Map. Installed by default. 
Found at Start, Programs, Accessories, 
System Tools. The Character Map lets 
you copy and paste special characters, 
such as the trademark symbol, special 
mathematical characters, or a character 
from another language, into your doc- 
uments. It's also a useful way to see 
what symbols are available in special 
symbol fonts such as Wingdings. 

Computer Management. Installed by 
default. Found at Start, Settings, Control 
Panel, Administrative Tools, Computer 
Management. This tool lets those who 
are part of the Administrator group 
manage local or remote computers. 

Device Manager. Installed by default. 
Found at Start, Settings, Control Panel, 
System, the Hardware tab, Device 
Manager. Requires Administrator privi- 
leges. Lets you manage and diagnose 
hardware in your computer. 

Disk Cleanup. Installed by default. 
Found at Start, Programs, Acces- 
sories, System Tools. Disk Cleanup 
helps free up hard drive space by 
searching your drive and showing you 
files that you can safely delete. It will 
then delete any number of those files, 
if you wish. 

Disk Defragmenter. Installed by de- 
fault. Found at Start, Programs, Acces- 
sories, System Tools. Built-in tool for 
defragmenting local hard drives. 

Disk Management. Installed by 
default. Found at Start, Settings, 
Control Panel, Administrative Tools, 
Computer Management. In the con- 
sole tree under Storage, click Disk 
Management. This lets you manage 
disks and volumes. This useful tool 



166 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Operating System Files 



supports partitions, logical drives, 
new dynamic volumes, and remote 
disk management. Requires Admin- 
istrator privileges. 

Dr. Watson. Installed by default. 
Found at Start and Run; type 
drwtsn32. Dr. Watson detects infor- 
mation about system and program 
failures. It then records the informa- 
tion in a log file for future reference. 
If you encounter a program error, Dr. 
Watson starts automatically. 

DVD Player. Installed by default if 
there is a DVD player and decoder in- 
stalled. Found at Start, Programs, 
Accessories, Entertainment. 

Event Viewer. Installed by default. 
Found at Start, Settings, Control Panel, 
Administrative Tools, Event Viewer. 
This program maintains logs about 
program, security, and system events. 
You can use it to view and manage the 
event logs, gather information about 
problems, and monitor security events. 

Fax Service Management. Installed 
by default if there is a fax device in- 
stalled. Found at Start, Programs, 
Accessories, Communications, Fax, 
Fax Service Management. 

FreeCell (and other games). Installed 
by default but may be removed by 
going to Start, Settings, Control Panel, 
Add/Remove Programs. Note that the 
Win2000 version of Solitaire has been 
updated to account for faster com- 
puters and now displays the winning 
card cascade much more slowly. Go 
ahead, ask us how we know. . . . 

HyperTerminal. Installed by de- 
fault. Found at Start, Programs, 
Accessories, Communications. This 
crude dialer left over from pre-Internet 
days helps you connect to other PCs, 
Telnet sites, bulletin board services, 
and host computers using your 
modem or a null modem cable. 

Imaging. Installed by default and is 
more of a background process than a 
foreground program. Integral compo- 
nent in letting you view folders of 
graphics as thumbnails in addition to 
lists of file names. 

Internet Explorer. The Microsoft 
Internet browser may be invoked 



J ^ & - 



D 



The Private Character Editor lets you turn 
fantasies into font characters you can use in 
your documents. It's useful for logos and 
other stylized font uses. You invoke it in 
Windows 2000 by opening the Start menu, 
clicking Run, and then typing eudcedit. 

from the Start menu or icons installed 
on the Desktop and Taskbar. Version 
5.x ships on the Win2000 initial re- 
lease discs but later versions may ap- 
pear on newer disc sets. Microsoft is 
currently distributing version 6. 

IP Security Policy Management. A 
snap-in that requires use of MMC and 
Administrator privileges. According to 
the company, it "is a key line of de- 
fense against internal, private net- 
work, and external (Internet, extranet) 
attacks. IPSec is designed to encrypt 
data as it travels between two com- 
puters, protecting it from modifica- 
tion and interpretation if anyone were 
to see it on the network. IPSec is con- 
trolled using a policy configuration 
that you create using the IP Security 
Policy Management snap-in." 

Local Users and Groups. Installed 
by default, but without details. This is 
where you set privilege levels and 
passwords. Found at Start, Settings, 
Control Panel, Administrative Tools, 
Computer Management. Requires 
Administrator privileges. 

NetMeeting. Installed by default. 
Found at Start, Programs, Accessories, 
Communications. The browser plug-in 
allows video- and audio conferencing 
over the Internet with data exchange 
and white-boarding support. 

Notepad. Installed by default. 
Found at Start, Programs, Accessories, 
System Tools. 

Outlook Express. Installed by de- 
fault. This "lite" version of Microsoft 
Outlook with email and newsnet 
readers works in conjunction with 



Internet Explorer or may be invoked 
separately. Found at Start, Programs. 
Also installed by default as a shortcut 
in the Taskbar and on the Desktop. 

Paint. Installed by default. Found at 
Start, Programs, Accessories. Primitive 
bit-map graphic editor/creator. 

Performance Tool. Installed by de- 
fault. Found at Start, Settings, Control 
Panel, Administrative Tools, Perfor- 
mance. According to the company, 
"The Windows 2000 Performance 
tool is composed of two parts: System 
Monitor and Performance Logs and 
Alerts. With System Monitor, you can 
collect and view real-time data about 
memory, disk, processor, network, 
and other activity in graph, his- 
togram, or report form. Through 
Performance Logs and Alerts you can 
configure logs to record performance 
data and set system alerts to notify 
you when a specified counter's value 
is above or below a defined threshold. 

Private Character Editor. One of 
the more hidden features of Win2000. 
You invoke it opening Start, Run 
and typing eudcedit. According to 
Microsoft, you can use the resulting 
tool to "create unique letters and 
logos for your font library." 

Removable Storage. Installed by de- 
fault. Found at Start, Settings, Control 
Panel, Administrative Tools, Computer 
Management. Find it on the left panel 
under Storage. According to Microsoft, 
this tool lets you "track your removable 
storage media (such as tapes and op- 
tical discs) and to manage the libraries 
that contain them (such as changers 
and jukeboxes)." 

Security Configuration and 
Analysis. This is an MMC snap-in 
that reviews and analyzes your 
system security settings. It will also 
recommend modifications to your 
system settings. Icons or remarks 
highlight any areas where the current 
settings do not match the proposed 
level of security. Administrators can 
use Security Configuration and 
Analysis to adjust the security policy 
and detect security flaws that arise in 
the system. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 167 



(f^) Operating System Files 



Services. Installed by default. 
Found at Start, Settings, Control 
Panel, Administrative Tools, Services. 
Each individual list of "services" is de- 
pendent on what's going on in your 
machine. Some features require 
Administrator privileges. 

Shared Folders. Installed by default. 
Found at Start, Settings, Control Panel, 
Administrative Tools, Computer 
Management, and under System Tools 
in the left panel. Yes, you get to deter- 
mine (or your Administrator does) 
which of your folders are shared, but 
this is the tool that manages them. 

Sound Recorder. Installed by de- 
fault. Found at Start, Programs, Ac- 
cessories, Entertainment. Not much 
changed from earlier Win9x/Me ver- 
sions. Records only the Microphone 
in port on your audio controller. 

System Information. Installed by 
default. Found at Start, Settings, 
Programs, Accessories, System Tools. 
Provides detailed information on the 
processes active in your system, on 
hardware, hardware conflicts, soft- 
ware startup, and so on. 

Windows Media Player. Available 
by default but inactive until invoked. 
Found at Start, Programs, Acces- 
sories, Entertainment. The Media 
Player may become active if you're on 
the Internet and click a file type to 
play, such as MPEG (Moving Pictures 
Experts Group). Version 6.4xx ships 
with earlier releases of Windows. 
Version 10 is currently available for 
download from Microsoft. 

Windows Script Host. Available by 
default but inactive until invoked. 
Found at Start, Run, and type wscript. 
Lets you construct and run automation 
scripts that will do interesting things in 
Win2000. For example, you could 
write an automation script that moves 
files around, erases some others, in- 
vokes ActiveX controls, sends email 
based on your Address Book contents, 
and so on. The Windows Script Host 
will run VBS (Visual Basic Scripts) and 
JS (Jscript) files. Among other things it 
lets people send you email files with at- 
tachments named Iloveyou.txt. vbs. 



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In Windows 2000 you can find the System 
Monitor by going to the Start menu, 
highlighting Settings, clicking Control Panel, 
and opening Administrative Tools. 

Windows Task Manager. Available 
by default. Invoked by pressing 
CTRL-ALT-DELETE. Brings up a 
window that lets you switch from one 
task to another, end a task, or shut 
down the system. You can also lock 
the computer, log off, or change pass- 
words while here. 

Windows Update. Installed by de- 
fault. Found at Start, Windows 
Update. Takes you directly to Micro- 
soft's Web site to check to see if any 
portion of the OS has been issued 
with an update. 

WordPad. Installed by default. 
Found at Start, Programs, Accessories. 
A bigger, meaner Notepad that will 
open and save documents in pure 
ASCII (American Standard Code for 
Information Interchange) text format 
and will also open and save files in 
Microsoft Word format. Handles 
larger files than Notepad will. 

What's Missing? 

If you're an experienced Windows 
user, you will find that at least two 
tools you may have become accus- 
tomed to using are gone in Win2000. 

Quick View, the applet that lets you 
view many file formats without 
having to load the application that 
produced the document and that has 
been part of Windows since Win95, is 
missing. Microsoft doesn't say why; it 
merely confirms that it is missing. 

Another applet that has disappeared 
from the Win2000 operating system is 
one that first showed up in Win98. 
Msconfig, otherwise known as the 



Microsoft Configuration Utility, was a 
valuable debugging tool that let you se- 
lectively disable startup items, whether 
they were located in the Start Up 
folder, in the Windows Registry, or in 
the still-present (but used only for 
legacy programs) Win.ini and 
System.ini, as well as Config.sys and 
Autoexec.bat files. In Win2000 Micro- 
soft expects you to manage these things 
through the Administrative Tools, 
Services applet. 

Service, Please 

As you might expect, there have 
been service pack releases and secu- 
rity fixes for Win2000 since its re- 
lease. There are three service packs 
and one security rollup. Service Pack 
3, released in August 2002, includes 
all of the fixes and changes in Service 
Packs 1 and 2, as well as Win2000's 
Security Rollup Package version 1. 
Windows Update will take you to 
the Microsoft page where you can 
check for the almost weekly security 
patches. Below are details on SP3 
and SP2. 

Main Win2000 SP3 page 

www.microsoft.com/windows 
2000/downloads/servicepacks/sp3 
/default, asp 

At support.microsoft.com articles 
are available regarding bugs fixed in 
Win2000 SP3 (Article ID 320853) 
and release notes for Win2000 SP3 
(Article ID 321295). 

Main Win2000 SP2 page 

www.microsoft.com/windows 
2000/downloads/servicepacks/sp2 
/default, asp 

At support.microsoft.com articles 
are available regarding bugs fixed in 
Win2000 SP2 (Article ID 282522) and 
release notes for Win2000 SP2 
(Article ID 289907). [n] 

by Myles White 



168 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Operating System Files 



Are You 
experienced? 

WinXP Takes File Management To The Next Level 




Many technical experts tout 
Windows XP, the latest ver- 
sion of Microsoft's OS (oper- 
ating system), as the first "must have" 
Windows upgrade since Windows 95. 
The software developers based 
WinXP on the Windows 2000 engine 
(or kernel), rather than on the old one 
from the consumer Windows OS. This 
is a significant difference, particularly 
to the developers who work with 
Windows and must produce drivers 
and programs to run on it. For con- 
sumers, it means one important 
change: WinXP shows the stability that 
prior consumer versions of Windows 
lacked. The OS contains the Win2000 
set of device drivers (the files that 
communicate between hardware de- 
vices and the software that uses them), 
which were specifically written for reli- 
ability and compatibility. As with 
Microsoft's Win2000 and Windows 
NT, each program in WinXP runs in 
its own memory space, making it less 
likely for conflicts to occur. 

Does this mean WinXP runs per- 
fectly? Unfortunately, no. In order to 
appease users, Microsoft has incorpo- 
rated support for DOS and older 



Windows programs. That's good news 
for aficionados of older applications 
and games, bad news for stability. 

We'll take you under the covers to 
explore exactly which files WinXP 
considers important, which ones it 
(and you) can live without, and per- 
haps even more importantly, which 
ones it may ignore, but you should 
also leave alone. In the sidebar in this 
article, "Windows XP Tips," we'll 
even arm you with insiders' tips to 
help you manage those files. 

Stability Concerns 

Traditionally, problems occur be- 
tween older programs and newer OSes 
because older programs don't meet to- 
day's high-tech standards. Thanks to 
diligent efforts on the part of Microsoft's 
development team, even these older 
programs run pretty efficiently (and re- 
liably) under WinXP. In some cases, 
they run even better than they did under 
previous versions of Windows. 

In fact, pretty much everything runs 
better under WinXP than previous ver- 
sions of Windows. The computer starts 
up and shuts down faster, applications 
load generally better, and the programs 
themselves, with a few exceptions, run 
as well or better than under Win95, 
Windows 98, or Windows Me. For a 
futuristic feel, WinXP also features an 
entirely new interface (although you 
can revert to the classic look if you like) 
and a wide range of enhanced features. 
If you haven't "test-driven" WinXP yet, 
you should. 

WinXP took the PC Health features 
of WinMe and made them even better, 
creating a virtual fortress around its 



critical system files. Does this mean 
that there are files you can't delete 
from your system in WinXP? No. As 
with other versions of Windows, you 
may, and should, delete certain files on 
a regular basis. 

Even more importantly, will WinXP 
prevent you from deleting a file that is 
required to run your particular 
system? Unfortunately, the answer is 
no. WinXP does protect your core 
system files, but it does not offer total 
protection. You may delete files in- 
stalled by programs outside of 
Windows. Even system files, as long as 
Windows does not deem them critical, 
can be removed. 

Restoration Work 

As WinMe did, WinXP incorporates 
stout security features designed to pre- 
vent people from inadvertently deleting 
their important system files. System 
Restore, which was introduced with 
WinMe, returns in this latest release. 

System Restore is a system-auto- 
mated utility that takes a snapshot of a 
user's important system files (in- 
cluding the Registry). The program 
takes these snapshots, called Restore 
Points, at regular intervals: every 24 
hours, after 10 hours of continuous 
use, when installations occur that use 
certain Microsoft-approved installa- 
tion wizards, or upon a user's request. 
They effectively provide a backup that 
can reinstate the system to the point of 
the last restore in the event of trouble. 

System Restore weaves a safety net 
under adventurous users, making it dif- 
ficult for them to render their systems 
inoperable. It works beautifully (unless 
you somehow delete the Restore Point 
files), but it can only restore a system to 
the point of the last snapshot. In addi- 
tion, it only stores crucial operating 
files, not the entire data set. 

Consequently, the developers of 
WinXP felt that even this protective 
shield was not enough. They wanted, 
as Windows Product Manager Tom 
Laemmel told us, "to render the expe- 
rience as seamless as possible for 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 169 



(f^) Operating System Files 



users go into their 
systems and say, 
c Hmm, I don't 
need this or that.' 
With Windows 



users." With this in mind, they de- 
cided to further insulate the system 
against tampering by designing 
WinXP to be self-repairing. 

In other words, if you delete an im- 
portant system file, WinXP replaces 
it, on the fly, as you watch. As 
Laemmel pointed out, "Experience 

has shown us that , t . 

Cautious users may 

wish to restrict their 

system modification 

activities to the System 

Tools provided with 

Windows XP. 

XP, they can have 

the experience of 

deleting an important system file 

without actually doing any damage." 

That's good news for WinXP, but it 
should raise a caution flag for users. Do 
not become complacent with this OS 
and believe that you can delete at will 
with no impact. As stated earlier, 
WinXP does not automatically replace 
files outside of its core system. These 
can include nonessential files, but they 
can also include a number of files you 
do not want to lose, such as programs. 

You may even delete Windows com- 
ponents not in use. WinXP let us delete 
the entire contents of the Windows 
Help folder, with the exception of the 
Tours folder, which the system stated 
was in use. When we tried to start 
Help, the OS generated the basic inter- 
face for Help on the fly (and replaced 
the files in the folder), but it could not 
regenerate any of the pages we had 
deleted. It did not re-create and replace 
them at the next startup, either. We 
had to replace them ourselves. 

On Your Watch 

Now that you know you cannot 
delete core system files but can do lots 
of other damage along the way, how 
do you protect yourself? Always ini- 
tiate a Restore Point before you make 
any system alterations, first of all. This 
simple process should become part of 
your regular operating routine. 

From the fancy, new 3D Start menu, 
choose All Programs, Accessories, 



System Tools, and System Restore. 
Click Create A Restore Point and 
follow the prompts. That's all it takes to 
make that important snapshot. As you 
make changes, make additional Restore 




Points along the way. If the system 
crashes, you will want to retain as 
many successful alterations as you can. 

The first time you create a Restore 
Point, click System Restore Settings, 
the Settings, and reduce the hard drive 
allocation. By default, System Restore 
reserves 12% of your hard drive for 
multiple Restore Points. If your drive 
is large, you lose a lot of space in re- 
store files (1.2GB on a 10GB drive). 
Reduce the allocation to 500MB or 
less if you want to be really frugal. 

The other safeguard against losing 
important files is to know which files 
you can and cannot delete and which 
ones the system (usually) restores for 
you. Before you delete anything, re- 
mind yourself, "when in doubt, don't." 

File Tampering 

WinXP requires thousands of files to 
run efficiently and supports over 100 
file types (more if you make manual ad- 
ditions). Some of these are system and 
program files; others are data files it 
opens in conjunction with a program. 

These hundreds of file types fall into 
several broad categories, some of 
which are more important than others. 
To help you sort out where you should 



■' Activate Windows 

fi) Character Map 

£ Disk Cleanup. 

HP DiskDefragmenter 

*: Files and Settings Transfer Wl 

^ Scheduled Tasks 

^) System Infcirmati 



tread with extra caution, we will out- 
line these categories, and their most 
common file types, for you. 

In the following sections, "delete" 
refers to the physical removal of files 
from their folder to the Recycle Bin (or 
the selection of the Delete option from 
the File Properties menu). We will dis- 
cuss other, safer methods of deletion 
in the final section. 

Windows uses the familiar DOS 
file-naming conven- 
tion, which appends 
a two- or three- 
letter file name ex- 
tension to each file. 
This enables the 
system to determine what type of file it 
is. By default, WinXP hides file exten- 
sions, but you may view them by 
changing Folder Options. From 
Explorer, select Tools, Folder Options, 
and View. Uncheck the option Hide 
Extensions For Known File Types, then 
click OK and the extensions appear. 

Backup Files 

Backup files store a copy of a file, 
folder, or drive that you can restore if a 
problem occurs. Most Windows 
backup files have the file extension 
.BAK. The OS or other programs often 
create these files, and you may safely 
delete them after 30 days. 

Another type of backup file is a CAB 
(cabinet) file, which Windows uses to 
store copies of its system files. Do not 
delete these files. CAB files stored in the 
Restore folder contain the information 
for System Restore and should never be 
moved, deleted, or altered. 

Backup files that certain programs 
create may use other file extensions. If 
you are using a backup utility, check 
the utility's documentation to see 
how it stores and names these files so 
you do not accidentally delete them. 

Data Files 

Technically, all computer files con- 
tain information and, therefore, are 
data files. However, files where the 



170 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q Operating System Files 



user may extract and view data are 
generally referred to as data files. Often 
user-created, these files bear an exten- 
sion specific to the program in which 
they were created, such as .DOC for 
Microsoft Word documents. You may 
delete program data files without 
harming the system, but you can de- 
stroy information that is important to 
you. WinXP will not restore data files. 

Two types of files that you may 
delete, TXT (text) and LOG (log), 
store information minus any format- 
ting, such as type size and style. Users 
traditionally create text files, but pro- 
grams also install them. 

Text files that programs install gen- 
erally contain information about late- 
breaking setup or program issues. 
Programs almost always create log files 
during setup or some other specific 
procedure. If they are more than a few 
months old, they are probably out of 
date and worthless; delete them. 

Internet Files 

HTML (Hypertext Markup Lan- 
guage) files, the most common file 
found on the Internet, have the exten- 
sion .HTM. These files are written in 
the "language" of the World Wide 
Web and are often downloaded from 
it. As such, you may safely delete them. 

However, WinXP features a brows- 
erlike interface and stores many of its 
interactive Desktop files in HTM 
format. Some of these are super- 
fluous, and the system can re-create 
some. At first glance, however, you 
can't tell which ones are safe to delete. 
For caution's sake, do not delete 
HTM files from a Windows folder be- 
cause WinXP may not automatically 
replace them. 

Multimedia Files 

Either the user or a program loads 
sound, video, and graphics files onto 
the PC. Some formats include MP3, 
WAV (standard PC audio files), MIDI 
(Musical Instrument Digital 
Interface), BMP (bit-mapped graphics 



files), RA (RealAudio), JPEG (Joint 
Photo-graphic Experts Group), GIF 
(Graphics Interchange Format), AVI 
(Audio-Video interleaved), MPEG 
(Moving Pictures Experts Group), 
and MOV (QuickTime). You can 
delete these files, but it will eliminate 
your ability to see or hear the item to 
which the file relates. If you delete 
these accidentally, WinXP will not re- 
store them for you. 

System/Program/Device 
Information Files 

Windows uses these files to store in- 
formation about devices and applica- 
tions that are used in ongoing system 
operations. DAT (data files stored in 
character format instead of binary 
format), INF (program information file 
or script), BIN (binary file), and INI (a 
DOS format for storing system and 
program configuration information, 
used mainly for backward compati- 
bility) files are examples. 

Deleting these files may not imme- 
diately affect your system operation. 
However, avoid deleting these files un- 
less you are certain about the device or 
program to which they relate and that 
you have removed that device or pro- 
gram from your system. 

WinXP uses another file format of 
this type, SYS (system configuration) 
files, during startup and other opera- 
tions to provide locations of devices 
and other system components. The 
best-known examples of SYS files are 
Config.sys and Msdod.sys, which are 
created during Setup. System files are 
almost exclusively stored in the 
Windows folder or its subfolders. Do 
not delete the files because WinXP 
cannot generate them on the fly. 
However, System Restore monitors 
them and can re-create them in the 
event of system problems. 

Command/Operating Files 

These workhorses of Windows 
each perform an operation, such as 
automating a startup or operating 



Windows XP Tips 



Here are a few file and folder tips 
for WinXP. 

Rename a series of files. If you ever 
download a group of files with unrec- 
ognizable names (such as those that 
come from your digital camera or off 
the Internet), there is a way to re- 
name them all at once. In Windows 
Explorer open the folder containing 
the files. Select the files to rename. (If 
they are not adjacent, you can hold 
down the CTRL key to select multiple 
files.) From the file menu, select 
Rename. Type the new name and 
press ENTER. The first file will have 
the name you specified. Subsequent 
files will have this name, followed by 
the number they hold in your se- 
quence (for example, Beach Trip, 
Beach Trip 1, Beach Trip 2, and so on). 

Add fields to the file details view. 
If you don't like the structure of the 
Details View that appears when you 
view files in Windows Explorer or 
from within My Computer, you can 
edit it and add a variety of cate- 
gories, such as Author, Comments, 
and Bit Rate. With any folder open 
and Detail selected from the Views 
menu, right-click any column header 
and choose More from the drop- 
down menu. You can add or delete 
headings, rearrange their order, and 
change the space allotted for them. 

Change the location of "My" files. 
My Documents, My Music, and My 
Pictures have a special status in 
WinXP because many of the 
Windows components save and 
refer to those folders by default. My 
Documents is located on the 
Desktop, and this folder cannot be 
moved. However, you can move the 
My Music and My Pictures folders, 
and WinXP will automatically up- 
date all the internal links. To do so 
simply open both My Documents 
and the folder in which you wish to 
place My Music and My Pictures and 
click and drag the folders to their 
new location. I 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 171 



If^) Operating System Files 



routine or running a program. The 
most common operating file type is 
an EXE (executable) file, the main ex- 
ecution file that runs a program. 

You may delete these files if you 
know that you do not want to use the 
program anymore, but it is better to 
delete them using the Windows Add/ 
Remove Programs feature. 

BAT (batch) files contain groups 
of commands that the system or pro- 
gram processes in sequential order. 
Certain programs still use BAT files, 
which are left over from the days of 
DOS, so they should not be deleted. 



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One of WinXP's more interesting enhance- 
ments is its ability to replace certain system- 
critical file types (EXE, DLL, VxD, and SYS) 
when they are deleted. Here, the user at- 
tempts to delete the critical User.exe file from 
the System32 folder (top). The user deletes 
the file. The file then goes to the Recycle Bin 
(center). However, the file reappears in the 
folder a few seconds later (bottom). 



System Communication Files 

These files, also referred to as 
drivers, act as translators between the 
system and its devices and programs. 
The two most common types are VxD 
and DLL. VxD (virtual device driver) 
is a driver that handles communica- 
tion at a very low level. They have ac- 
cess to the kernel (core) of the OS. 
DLLs (dynamic-link library files) are 
a collection of commands, functions, 
or data that a device or program uses. 

Some DLL and VxD files are specific 
to one application or device, but others 
are generic. Because the system has the 
potential to break down if these files 
are accidentally deleted or become cor- 
rupt, WinXP monitors all activity that 
occurs with VxD and DLL files. 

In addition, it maintains a list of 
troublesome drivers and blocks devices 
from installing these drivers on the 
system. Even so, these files are so im- 
portant that you should not remove 
them unless you are specifically in- 
structed to do so by a system expert. 

Temporary Files 

Programs need these files during 
operation, but you should remove 
them after the program terminates, if 
they aren't removed automatically. 
Temporary files include a wealth of 
file types, but the most common is the 
TMP (temporary) file. 

You can find most TMP files in the 
TEMP folder. If you choose to remove 
them yourself, delete only the tempo- 
rary files that are stored in the TEMP 
folder or are more than 30 days old. 

Other file types that we have not dis- 
cussed here occur less frequently. 
Nonetheless, users should not delete 
them. Each has a role to play in main- 
taining the integrity of your system. If 
you see a file type you do not recog- 
nize, open Windows Explorer and 
choose Folder Options from the Tools 
menu. Click the File Types tab, and 
WinXP displays all the registered file 
types. Scroll until you find the exten- 
sion you are looking for. To the right of 
the extension, you'll find a description 



of the program or operation with 
which the file is associated. Then you 
can decide whether to remove it. 

Surgical Removal 

As you have seen, you should con- 
sider deleting only a handful of file 
types from your system: BAK, TXT, 
LOG, TMP, HTM, and the various 
user-created data and multimedia files. 

If you want to delete any of these 
files manually, select the Search button 
while in Windows Explorer and choose 
All Files And Folders to search for the 
file type. Enter an asterisk, followed by 
the extension for the files that you are 
seeking, such as *.GIF. The asterisk is a 
wildcard character that tells WinXP to 
search for all files of this type. 

Once the results are returned, decide 
what you want to delete. You will dis- 
cover that purging unneeded docu- 
ments, graphics, and downloaded 
Internet pages saves you more space 
than messing with the system files. 

Complete Package 

If you were hoping to make sweep- 
ing changes to your WinXP system, 
you are probably feeling pretty disap- 
pointed right now. 

What if you are laboring with an 
older PC that can barely hold this great 
new OS and you need to pare it down? 
"WinXP consumes a lot of space and 
system resources for a reason — each of 
those files does something," says 
Laemmel. "If you are really worried 
about paring it down, my advice is, 
don't. Upgrade instead." 

Main WinXP SP2 page 

www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2 
/default.mspx 

At support.microsoft.com, articles 
are available regarding bugs fixed in 
WinXP SP2 (Article ID 811113) and 
release notes for WinXP SP2 (Article 
ID 835935). g] 

by Jennifer Farwell 



172 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Suite Files 



Taking Care Of 
Business 

Make The Most Of Microsoft Office 2003 



Whether or not you use 
your PC in an office 
setting, Microsoft Of- 
fice 2003 can be an 
indispensable piece of 
software. The successor to Microsoft 
Office XP, Office 2003 has become one 
of Microsoft's top-selling programs 
since it was released in the fall of 2003. 
But if you don't recognize the 
Office 2003 name, don't worry. In that 
case, you most likely know the soft- 
ware by the names of the individual 
applications in the suite, such as 
Microsoft Word, which has 
been around since the early 
1990s. Office 2003 contains 
a word processing pro- 
gram, spreadsheet applica- 
tion, email client, and 
other programs and its 
many versions offer 
comprehensive software 
for homes, small busi 
nesses, or large corporations. 

Choosing An Office Edition 

Office 2003 comes in four 
retail versions for the PC, 
each with a slightly different 
set of components. Office 
Standard Edition 2003, 
which we'll focus on in this 
article, contains the word 
processing program Word 
2003, the spreadsheet pro- 
gram Excel 2003, the "per- 
sonal information manager 
and communications pro- 
gram" Outlook 2003 (known 
to laymen everywhere as an 




email program), and the business- 
presentation graphics heavyweight 
PowerPoint 2003. The Office Student 
And Teacher Edition 2003 contains the 
same applications as the Standard 
Edition, but it is for noncommercial 
use only and typically costs less than 
half the price of the Standard version. 

For those who need a little more 
power, Office Small Business Edition 
2003 adds Publisher 2003, a business 
publishing and marketing materials 
program, and Business Contact 
Manager, an add-on to Outlook 2003 
that helps manage clients, 
contacts, and other data. 
One step above this is 
Office Professional Edition 
2003, which includes all 
the programs Small Busi- 
ness Edition does along 
with Access 2003, a data- 
base management pro- 
gram. It also supports 
XML (Extensible Markup 
Language), a Web-page 
design specification that 
lets the designer tailor for- 
matting tags in a docu- 
ment. There's also Office 
Professional Enterprise 
Edition 2003, available 
only through Microsoft's 
volume licensing program. 
Lastly, if you purchased 
a new computer with 
Office 2003 installed, it's 
possible you have a sixth 
version of Office on your 
PC: Office Basic Edition 
2003. It resembles the 
Standard Edition in that it 



contains the popular Word, Excel, 
and Outlook applications, but it 
does not include PowerPoint. 

System requirements for Office 
Standard Edition include an Intel 
Pentium 233MHz or faster processor 
(Pentium III recommended), 128MB 
of RAM or greater, 260MB of available 
hard drive space, a CD-ROM or DVD 
drive, and Windows 2000 (with 
Service Pack 3 or later) or Windows 
XP. Actual retail prices vary, but the 
Microsoft Web site advertises the 
Standard Edition 2003 for $399 and its 
academic counterpart, the Student 
And Teacher Edition 2003, for $149. If 
you want to upgrade from a previous 
version of Office, you can buy an up- 
grade version of Office Standard 
Edition 2003 from Microsoft for $239. 

Installation 

We installed Office Standard 
Edition 2003 on a WinXP computer 
with a 3GHz Intel Pentium 4 pro- 
cessor, 504MB of RAM, and 53GB of 
free hard drive space, which exceeded 
the minimum system requirements. 
When we input the installation disc 
into the CD-ROM drive, the installa- 
tion wizard launched itself almost im- 
mediately. (If the wizard does not 
launch, go to Start, My Computer, 
navigate to the CD-ROM's contents, 
and double-click the Setup file of 
Type: Application.) We typed in the 
product key, entered PC-owner details 
such as name and organization, and 
accepted the terms of the EULA (End- 
User License Agreement). Then we 
had to make a choice. The suite offered 
four types of installation: Typical, 
Complete, Minimal, and Custom. 

We wanted to see what programs 
were available through the latter, so 
we chose the Custom installation. 
This allowed us to choose the exact 
components we wanted, and because 
we wanted all four applications to be 
installed, we selected the Word, 
Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint 
components. After being told we 
needed 481MB of space (and that we 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 173 



(£) Suite Files 



had 53GB available) we 
gave the software the in- 
stallation go-ahead. Two 
minutes later, installation 
was complete. 

Well, almost complete. 
Even though we had a new 
product shipped directly 
from Microsoft, a dialog 
box told us setup was suc- 
cessfully completed but that 
there might be additional 
components or security up- 
dates available online. We 
visited the Microsoft Web 
site where first we were 
prompted to install the 
Office Update Installation 

Engine ActiveX Control, a 

file that contains rules for sharing data 
among programs. Then we down- 
loaded two required updates: Office 
2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1, which offers 
security enhancements and stability 
features) and Update for Outlook 
2003 Junk Email filter (self-explana- 
tory, and anyone who has received co- 
pious amounts of spam knows how 
vital this feature can be). After this we 
were able to install two other required 
updates: Update For Office 2003 
French Grammar Checker and Update 
for Office 2003, both of which re- 
quired SP1 be installed previously. 
This whole process took us about 
seven minutes over a broadband In- 
ternet connection. 

If you decide not to download addi- 
tional components or updates at this 
time, you can download these pro- 
grams separately by searching the 
Microsoft Web site for recommended 
updates. For example, SP1 is an exe- 
cutable file, and it has an .EXE exten- 
sion. (This is opposed to data files, 
which are collections of data used by 
executable files.) You can download ei- 
ther the Office2003SPl-kb842532- 
client-enu.exe file or the Office2003 
SPl-kb842532-fullfile-enu.exe file, 
depending on access to the product 
CD-ROM and other factors; then 
double-click the executable file and 
follow the on-screen instructions. 



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Microsoft Office Standard Edition 2003 contains hundreds of folders, 
subfolders, and individual files. 



Lastly, we also had the option of 
deleting Office Installation Files that 
were copied to our hard drive during 
installation. Microsoft notes that 
keeping them will assist with future 
maintenance and updates, so we left 
them on our system, obviating the 
need to locate the installation CD in 
the future. And that relates to the 
question that always arises with large 
installations: What files can I afford to 
leave out or delete later? If you're 
comfortable installing software, we 
here at Smart Computing typically 
recommend you choose the Custom 
installation option. By installing only 
the applications you think you will 
need, you can install a feature later, or 
run it from a CD-ROM, and save po- 
tentially scarce hard drive space. 

Behind The Scenes 

Once you've installed the office 
suite, you'll know the new programs 
have been installed thanks to 
WinXP's friendly little notice in the 
Start menu. But you can also figure 
this out by scouring through My 
Computer, where the new folders and 
subfolders appear. We were curious 
about what we'd find behind the 
scenes, so we opened My Computer 
and viewed the detailed listing of our 
C: (hard) drive. In the C:\PROGRAM 



FILES directory, we found 
a new folder, Microsoft 
Office, and opening it re- 
vealed a wealth of new 
files. Although this folder 
contained only four sub- 
folders (Media, Officell, 
PowerPoint Viewer, and 
Templates) these folders 
contained scores of new 
subfolders and files. 

For example, the Office 
11 folder contains a dozen 
subfolders and approxi- 
mately 120 files of various 
types. We sorted the files 
by type and took a look at 
the application files. Some 

of these were obvious at 

first glance. For example, double- 
clicking EXCEL, a 9,845KB applica- 
tion, launched the Microsoft Excel 
spreadsheet program, while double- 
clicking POWERPNT, a roughly 
5.85MB program, launched Micro- 
soft PowerPoint. (Note: The file size 
listed in the Size column is close but 
not exactly equivalent to the size you 
see if you place the pointer over the 
file and wait until its detailed descrip- 
tion pops up.) 

But some of the other files were a 
bit more difficult to decipher — even 
the applications. GRAPH is a rela- 
tively large file (2.04MB) that seemed 
promising, but when we tried to 
launch it we were told it could only be 
launched from inside another pro- 
gram. Then there were all the DLL 
(dynamic-link library) files. These 
files are loaded into memory only 
when the programs they are associ- 
ated with are running. Plus, if you ex- 
plore through this and some of the 
other folders and subfolders, you'll 
notice hundreds of graphics files in 
GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), 
WMF (Windows Metafile Format), 
and other image file types. 

All of this is interesting, but we 
know that what's really important is 
what happens when you run each of 
Office Standard 2003's components, 
so let's take a look at each one. 



174 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Ir^l Suite Files 



Word 

The main program file for the word 
processing program, Microsoft Office 
Word 2003, is located in C:\PRO- 
GRAM FILES\MICROSOFT OFFICE\ 
OFFICE 11. Sure, you could go to My 
Computer and double-click the Win- 
Word executable file, but as you know, 
a much easier way to open Word is to 
go to the Start menu, select All Pro- 
grams, select the Microsoft Office icon, 
and then choose Microsoft Office 
Word 2003. (And if this is a program 
you commonly use, soon it will work 
its way onto the Start menu just above 
All Programs, and you can access it 
with just two clicks.) 

When you launch Word, the soft- 
ware opens with a new blank page just 
waiting for you to start writing. You 
can also open existing documents in 
Word, and they can be in any of a 
number of file formats. For example, 
you can open up files in rich text 
format (RTF, a basic text-document 
format that can be opened and read 
by a variety of operating systems and 
applications), Word Perfect 5.x 
(WordPerfect is a word processing 
application currently owned by Corel 
and one of the longest-running appli- 
cations for microcomputers still in 
use), and Works 2000 (a more basic 
word processing program developed 
by Microsoft), as well as a variety of 
other formats. 

When you're ready to save 
your file, by default Word will 
save it as — no surprises here — a 
Word Document, which ap- 
pears with a .DOC extension. 
You can also save it in other 
formats, including the ones 
mentioned above. One of the 
neat features of Word 2003 is 
that you can save files as Web 
pages. Rather than using the 
Save command found under the 
File menu, go to File, select Save 
As Web Page, and name your 
file. Word automatically saves it 
as a single file Web page, which 
saves all of the elements of a 



Web page (including graphics) into 
one file, rather than a group of files. 

Excel 

The main program file for Mi- 
crosoft Office Excel is located in 
C:\PROGRAM FILESVMICROSOFT 
OFFICE\OFFICEll and is called, ap- 
propriately enough, Excel. To launch 
it, select Microsoft Office Excel 2003 
from the Microsoft Office entry under 
the Start/ All Programs menu. 

When the program first opens, it 
displays a new, blank spreadsheet 
with three tabs. Begin creating your 
own spreadsheet or, if you wish, 
open an existing spreadsheet. Excel 
is an extremely popular spreadsheet 
application that reads files created 
by Excel (those with an .XLS exten- 
sion) as well as files of many other 
types. For instance, if a colleague 
sends you a file she created with 
Lotus 1-2-3, you can open it in 
Excel. The same is true for Quattro 
Pro, Microsoft Works, and Excel 
files as far back as Excel 4.0. 

When you're ready to save your 
file, by default Excel saves it as a 
Microsoft Office Excel Workbook. 
You can also save it in other formats, 
including the ones mentioned above. 
And, just as with Word, you can save 
files as Web pages; the only difference 
being that the file is simply saved as a 
Web page, not a single Web page file 



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PowerPoint 2003 

The prior two applications we cov- 
ered have numerous home uses, 
but the next one, Microsoft Office 
PowerPoint 2003, is a key tool for 
business users. The file is located in 
C:\PROGRAM FILESVMICROSOFT 
OFFICE\OFFICEll and is called 
POWERPNT. With it, you can create 
presentations; save presentations to 
shared spaces so colleagues can edit 
them; animate text, charts, and other 
graphics; and take advantage of auto- 
correction tools such as a spellchecker. 
Plus, the software makes use of smart 
tags, Microsoft's technology for 
linking features within Office. 

Launch Microsoft Office PowerPoint 
by clicking Start, then All Programs, 
then Microsoft Office. Like Word and 
Excel, PowerPoint starts with a blank 
presentation. PowerPoint 2003 is back- 
ward compatible, meaning that it saves 
presentations in a format that earlier 
versions of PowerPoint can read (as far 
back as PowerPoint 95), and it lets you 
open programs created with earlier ver- 
sions as well. And, in addition to 
opening presentation files, PowerPoint 
has the ability to import a hefty range of 
media files to include in slides. 

One feature we'd like to make spe- 
cial note of is the PowerPoint Viewer. 
This free download, found by 
searching www.microsoft.com 
for the file Ppviewer.exe, lets 
you run a PowerPoint presenta- 
tion on a PC that doesn't have 
the full PowerPoint program in- 
stalled. When we installed 
Office Standard 2003, the viewer 
(called PPTVIEW) installed in 
the Office 11 subfolder along 
with the full POWERPNT file. 



Outlook 2003 

And now, something a bit 
different. Outlook 2003, the 
email/contact/communications 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 175 



(£) Suite Files 




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program contained in Office Stan- 
dard 2003, varies from the other 
main components in several key 
ways. One, it is much smaller, 
weighing in at a mere 192KB, just 
slightly more than 3% of the size of 
the PowerPoint application. Two, it 
requires a significant amount of work 
to configure; launching it initially 
launches a setup wizard, which walks 
you through creating an email ac- 
count. And three, you don't create 
and save files the same way you do 
with PowerPoint, Excel, and Word. 
You can save some elements of 
Outlook 2003 (such as your contacts) 
as separate files, although this is not a 
common use of the software. With 
the Contacts element open and a 
contact highlighted, go to File and 
then Save As (by default, this saves 
your contact as an RTF file). 

Another key difference is Out- 
look's Import and Export com- 
mands. Outlook can import files of 
various types and convert them so 
Outlook can handle them. For ex- 
ample, suppose you had been using 
a version of Eudora as your previous 
email client and you want to migrate 
your address book to Outlook. 
Eudora stores its address book in its 
own file format, but you don't need 
to know the file name. Instead, Go 
to Outlook's File menu, choose 
Import And Export Wizard, select 
Import Internet Mail And Add- 
resses, and click Next. Select Eudora 
(Pro And Light) 2.x, 3.x, 4.x, click 
Next, click Finish, and the software 



automatically imports the address 
book (and mail if you so desire). 

Delete Office Applications 

Let's suppose you've realized that 
you don't need to use all of Office's 
applications and you want to delete, 
say, the word processing program. 
Although in our opinion Word is one 
of the most useful programs in the 
entire suite, as well as one of the eas- 
iest to learn how to use, it's possible 
you won't want to keep it on your 
system, especially as WinXP includes 
two basic word processing tools, 
Notepad and WordPad. You can 
delete the application, but first, a 
word of caution. 

For many Microsoft programs, 
the method that's the easiest, most 
efficient, and least likely to cause 
harm to your other programs is to 
go to the Control Panel, click Add 
Or Remove Programs, highlight the 
program in the list of Currently 
Installed Programs, and click the 
Remove button. But because Word 
is part of the Office Suite, you won't 
be able to use this method to locate 
Microsoft Word and uninstall the 
Word component only. 

This leaves you with two options. 
One (not recommended), you can use 
the "old method" familiar to long- 
time Windows users. Go into My 
Computer, locate the WinWord ap- 
plication, right-click it, and select 
Delete from the context menu. But 
this does not ensure you will remove 
all the proper associated files; and if 
you try to guess which other files are 
related to Word, such as graphics files 
that it might call upon, you may end 
up removing small files that other 
programs in the Office suite use. 

Or two, you use another nifty little 
feature found via Add Or Remove 
Programs. Highlight Microsoft Office 
Standard Edition 2003, but instead of 
clicking Remove, click Change. In the 
Microsoft Office 2003 Setup box, you 
see three radio buttons: Add Or 
Remove Features, Reinstall or Repair, 



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The Control Panel lets you easily add or delete 
components from Microsoft Office. Here we 
are adding Publisher, a tool found in the 
Professional Edition. 

and Uninstall. Select the first radio 
button and click Next. 

The next screen shows you the list 
of applications contained in Office; 
the ones that you installed have 
checkmarks next to them, and the 
ones that you didn't, don't. Deselect 
Word or any other desired applica- 
tion and click Update. If you're using 
this technique to install components 
(say, for example, you hadn't installed 
Word originally), you'll need to make 
sure the installation CD is in your 
CD-ROM drive. This procedure 
works for all the Office applications 
we discussed, including Excel, 
PowerPoint, and Outlook. And keep 
in mind that it does not delete the 
files created with or read by those 
programs; it simply deletes the appli- 
cations themselves. 

Given all the applications Office 
2003 has to offer, it isn't surprising 
that there's so much going on under- 
neath the surface as hundreds of small 
and not-so-small files work in con- 
junction with one another. And al- 
though you don't need to understand 
what each one does in order to take 
advantage of the software, it's nice to 
know that the next time you sit down 
to type up a business proposal or send 
an email message, Office 2003 will be 
working as hard behind the scenes as 
you are in your home or office. [H] 

by Heidi Anderson 



176 www.smartcomputlng.com / Working With PC Files 



Ir^l Suite Files 



Workin' 
Microsoft Works 

Explore The Files That Make Up This Suite 




the different file types that make this 
powerful, versatile collection of 
home-productivity programs work. 
This tour will introduce you to those 
file types and help you better under- 
stand how they support their related 
programs and interact with others. 

Suite Overview 

Works Suite 2005 comes on five 
CDs. These CDs hold the six main 
programs that constitute the suite: 
Works 8.0, Word 2002, Money 2005 
Standard, Picture It! Premium 10.0, 
Encarta Encyclopedia Standard 2005, 
and Streets & Trips 2005. The discs 
also contain essential applications 
such as Internet Explorer 6.0 and 
Outlook Express 6.0. 

In addition to the links that will 
open those six main programs, the re- 
vamped Task Launcher has one-click 
access to the Address Book, Calen- 
dar, Dictionary, and PowerPoint 
Viewer (the last two are new to 
Works Suite 2005). It also fea- 
tures a Templates section that 



When designing Works Suite 
2003, Microsoft added the 
ability for users to view all 
the suite's programs via icons. That 
feature is still intact in the updated 
Works Suite 2005, even though the 
suite's main interface, the Task 
Launcher, has changed significantly. 

Through the Task Launcher (Start, 
All Programs, Microsoft Works Task 
Launcher), you have one-click access 
to all the main programs in the suite, 
by selecting the appropriate icon 
under Quick Launch, and access to 



those programs and more tools 
through the Programs button at the 
top of the page. 

The Task Launcher is the best ap- 
proach to working your way through 
the Works Suite, especially if you've 
never used a previous version of it be- 
fore. But working this way exclusively 
is like owning a high-end BlackBerry 
and using just one or two features. 
You'll never get the most out of your 
purchase that way. 

We've explored the components of 
Works Suite 2005 in order to uncover 



holds more than 170 templates for you 
to use when creating, revising, and 
completing your tasks and projects. 

The Task Launcher 

Before we review each of the suite's 
programs, let's take a closer look at 
the Task Launcher. This is an ex- 
tremely user-friendly interface that 
serves as the suite's home base. From 
here you can open all of the suite's 
programs and tools and the files 
you've created with them. 



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Launch the Task 
Launcher via the Start 
menu or double-click the 
Msworks file under C:\ 
PROGRAMFILES\MI- 
CROSOFT WORKS. Note 
that locations for saved files 
in this article are based 
on the Windows XP (with 
Service Pack 2) operating 
system. Locations for your 
saved files in Works Suite 
2005 may differ slightly if 
you are using another oper- 
ating system — an impor- 
tant consideration, as the 
suite will run on systems as 
oldasWin98SE. 

Across the top of the 
Task Launcher home page 
you'll notice five buttons: Home, 
Templates, Programs, Projects, and 
History. We could spend all day 
looking at what's accessible through 
each of these buttons. For example, the 
Projects page offers much of the func- 
tionally that the My Projects Organizer 
did in Microsoft Suite 2003. The 
Works Projects tab on the Projects 
page displays 12 icon-style links to lists 
and templates that will walk you 
through the process of completing 
tasks such as planning a party or 
family reunion, or starting a fund- 
raiser. Once you start a project, it will 
be saved on the Saved Projects tab. 

For the purposes of examining the 
files in Works Suite, however, the 
most important of the buttons on 
the Task Launcher home page is 
Programs. This opens a divided 
screen that lists 17 programs and tools 
under the Choose A Program head- 
ing. The titles of the applications 
serve as shortcuts to the executable 
files (EXE) that launch each of them. 

Another way to open the suite's 
programs is to use the Start menu 
(Start, All Programs, Microsoft 
Encarta, for example). But these op- 
tions, along with Task Launcher's 
Quick Launch, don't give you the be- 
hind-the-scenes look that Windows 
Explorer affords. 



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The redesigned Task Launcher provides many avenues for accessing 
programs, tools, and templates that make up Works Suite. 



Works 8.0 

You can open other programs from 
your hard drive without launching 
Task Launcher, but that's not true of 
MS Works. Open it and you automati- 
cally open the Task Launcher. In addi- 
tion to the Task Launcher, MS Works 
contains an Address Book, Calen- 
dar, Database, Dictionary, Portfolio, 
PowerPoint Viewer, and Spreadsheet 
tools. The to-do tasks found in the 
Projects and Templates sections rely on 
various programs in the Works Suite in 
order to create new files. In fact, in the 
Templates section, the icon of the pro- 
gram each template is based on appears 
in the upper-left corner of the template 
icon. This explains why the Microsoft 
Works folder in C:\PROGRAM FILES 
contains more than 1,000 files. 

Create a file. MS Works gives you 
many options for creating different file 
types, depending upon the tool you 
choose to work with. As mentioned, 
you can access any of the suite's pro- 
grams from the Task Launcher, but 
here we'll just mention the four main 
tools in MS Works — Address Book, 
Calendar, Database, and Spreadsheet. 
Creating a file in any of these applica- 
tions begins by selecting one of those 
programs from the Programs list, 
clicking the appropriate icon (such as 



the 



Blank Database), and fol- 
lowing the instructions. 

Save a file. Saving a file 
usually means choosing the 
Save As option from the File 
menu. When you do this in 
Database and Spreadsheet, 
the default location for 
the saved file is C:\DOCU- 
MENTSAND SETTINGS\ 
[USER NAME] \MYDOCU- 
MENTS, but you can 
change that to another loca- 
tion on your hard drive or 
other storage medium. Also, 
a link to these saved files 
will appear in the Task 
Launcher's History section. 

Spreadsheet files can be 

stored in 10 formats. The 
default format for Works 8.0 is 
XLR, but others include Works for 
Windows 3.0 (WKS), Lotus 1-2-3 
(WK1), Text & Commas (CSV), and 
several versions of Excel (XLS). You 
can store database files in different 
formats: dBASE IV (DBF), Text & 
Comma (CSV), Text & Tabs (TXT), 
and the default (WDB). 

Additions to your Address Book will 
be stored in C:\DOCUMENTSAND 
SETTINGS\ [USER NAME] \APPLICA- 
TIONDATA\MICROSOFT\ADDRESS 
BOOK, most likely in one big file with 
a WAB extension. A tool in the Task 
Launcher lets you convert old address 
books created in past versions of 
Works into the current Works 
8.0 format. 

Delete a file. The previous version 
of MS Works Suite enabled quick 
deletion of many files created in 
Works, particularly those made with 
Database and Spreadsheet, through 
the link to those files in the Task 
Launcher. The obvious place for a 
similar feature in the updated MS 
Works would be under History. 
However, those links will only open 
the related files; they cannot be used 
to remove them. Clearing the list 
from History will not delete the files 
linked to the list. So the best way to 
delete individual files created in MS 



178 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Ir^l Suite Files 



Works is the old-fashioned way. Find 
the file through Explorer, right-click 
the file name, and choose Delete from 
the context menu. 

With Address Book and Calendar 
content, remember that most of the 
time when you enter data in these 
tools you are not creating new, sepa- 
rate files, but adding information to 
an overall file. Thus, deleting infor- 
mation in these programs is best done 
from within the application. For ex- 
ample, in Address Book, highlight the 
address and select Delete from the 
File menu; in Calendar, highlight 
the appointment and click Delete 
Appointment from the Edit menu. 

You can delete Projects through the 
Task Launcher by clicking that button, 
highlighting a project on the Saved 
Projects tab, and clicking the Delete a 
Project button. 

Word 2002 

Unlike the other main programs in 
MS Works Suite 2005, Word 2002 
does not reside in its own folder on 
your hard drive once it's installed. Nor 
is it accompanied by a slew of sup- 
porting files, as MS Works is. You can 
access Word in the same way you do 
the other suite programs, from the 
Start menu or the Task Launcher, but 
finding it on your hard drive may be a 
bit trickier. 

If you have a previous 
version of Word already 
installed, that's where you 
should look on your hard 
drive for the 2002 version. 
For example, our test PC 
had Microsoft Office XP 
already installed. Thus, we 
found the 2002 version of 
Word in C:\PROGRAM 
FILES\MICROSOFT OF- 
FICE\OFFICE 11. Regard- 
less of where you find it, 
you'll notice that the Word 
application file is called 
Winword.exe — an execut- 
able file that launches the 
program. If in doubt of 



the location, choose the Find com- 
mand (or Search command in Win- 
XP) from the Start menu and search 
for Winword.exe. 

Create a file. After launching 
Word, you may not automatically see 
a blank document on your screen. If 
that's the case, you'll need to choose 
New from the File menu. A new 
feature in Word 2002 is the New 
Document task pane on the right side 
of the screen, from which you can 
choose a blank document, Web page, 
or email message, or you can choose 
from existing templates. 

Save a file. The default format for 
saving a file in Word is, of course, a 
Word document (DOC). Unless you 
specify otherwise, the file will be saved 
in My Documents. But Word will let 
you save files in more than a dozen 
other formats. Choose Save As from 
the File menu, then look in the drop- 
down menu next to Save As Type in 
the bottom of the Save As dialog box. 
Your file format options here include: 
XML Document (XML), Single File 
Web Page (MHT), Web Page (HTM), 
Web Page Filtered (HTML), Doc- 
ument Template (DOT), Rich Text 
Format (RTF — a universal format 
that works with virtually any word 
processor), Plain Text (TXT), plus 
older versions of Word and several 
versions of Works (WPS). 




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Fewer files are installed with Money 2005 Standard compared with previous 
editions because much of the program is based on Web sites. 



Delete a file. You can delete Word 
files while running the program, but 
you cannot delete any file that is cur- 
rently open. The simplest and safest 
way to delete a document is to find it 
in the appropriate folder on your 
hard drive, right-click the file name, 
and choose Delete. 

For good measure, Windows will 
toss the document in the Recycle Bin, 
where you can retrieve it just in case 
you realize later you still need it. The 
good thing about Word documents 
is that they take up such a small 
amount of space (compared with, say, a 
graphics file) on your hard drive, it isn't 
necessary to purge them that often. 
NOTE: To adjust the space allotted to 
your Recycle Bin (and thus how many 
deleted files it will hold and for how 
long), right-click the Recycle Bin icon on 
your Desktop, select Properties, and 
change the setting accordingly. 

Money 2005 Standard 

Previous versions of Money came 
packed with sound (WAV) files be- 
cause just about every link or icon you 
clicked in the program was accompa- 
nied by audio bites. That's not the case 
with Money 2005. When you look into 
the folder at C:\PROGRAM FILES\MI- 
CROSOFT MONEY 2005, all you'll 
find there now is a Readme.txt file, a 
sample Money file, and a 
shortcut to the program. 
Gone, too, are the Answer 
Wizard (AW), Cascading 
Style Sheets (CSS), and 
graphic (BMP and GIF) files 
that used to be stuffed in the 
program file. 

Money 2005 is a portal 
to various Web sites that 
the program relies on to let 
you work with the many 
tools packed in the appli- 
cation. For instance, the 
program's home page for 
taxes is moneycentral.msn 
.com/tax/home. asp. Even 
the program's Help section 
is online. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 179 



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With Money, you can set 
up budgets; pay bills online; 
keep track of your bank ac- 
counts, investment portfo- 
lios, retirement funds, and 
insurance policies; plus, fill 
out tax forms. To assist you 
in these tasks, Microsoft 
added the Essential Register 
and Essential Budget to the 
2005 version. You don't 
need a background in ac- 
counting to use these tools; 
the program gives easy-to- 
follow instructions to com- 
plete each task. But you 
must have an Internet con- 
nection to use them. 

Create a file. Choose 

New from the File menu 
to do one of two things: create a New 
Account or a New File. Choosing the 
former launches the New Account 
wizard, with which you can create 
accounts for your banks, credit card 
companies, brokerage firms, etc. 
Scores of those institutions provide 
updates to Money, so you might be 
able to find the financial firm you 
patronize from a list and set up your 
account file in no time. Of course, 
make sure you have account num- 
bers handy. You will also need a 
Microsoft .NET Passport (MSN or 
Hotmail address) to sign in. If you 
don't already have one, you can 
create one through Money. If your 
financial institution isn't listed, 
Money will let you import data from 
the financial institution's Web site. 

Money 2005 works with "outside" 
file types, too. For example, you can 
convert files from Quicken, which is 
another financial management pro- 
gram; these files have a .QDT, .QDB, 
or .QDF extension. Likewise, you can 
easily export files and/or data to var- 
ious tax-preparation programs. 

Save a file. When you create a New 
Account in Money 2005, it automati- 
cally will be saved as part of the overall 
program. There is no need to do a 
separate Save As step here. However, 
when you create a New File, which 



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Picture It! Premium 10 installs hundreds of graphics files on your system so 
you can create an endless variety of projects. 



you'll do if you manage multiple sets 
of accounts, you'll need to name it 
and store it. These .MNY files are 
stored in your My Documents folder, 
unless you choose another locale. 

The most important Save function 
you will perform is creating a back- 
up file for all the account informa- 
tion you enter into the program. 
Money will prompt you to save and 
then back up the program file (a file 
with the .MBF extension). The de- 
fault location is My Documents, but 
you can change that. You'll be 
prompted to save this each time you 
leave the program. When you exit 
Money 2005 after the first time you 
use the program, you'll also be 
prompted to create a backup disk. 
The space required is a little less 
than the size of a standard floppy 
diskette — about 1.44MB. In addi- 
tion, you can determine how fre- 
quently Money should prompt you 
to back up that diskette. 

Delete a file. No delete function ex- 
ists in the File menu in Money. 
Within each task of the application, 
however, you can change or delete fi- 
nancial data just by entering new data 
over the old. To delete any separate 
files you've created, use Windows 
Explorer or the Search tool to find the 
file, right-click it, and choose Delete. 



Picture It! Premium 10 

Picture It! works hand- 
in-hand with the MS Works 
Task Launcher as much as 
any of the other programs 
in the suite, outside of 
Word. Clicking many of 
the templates in the Task 
Launcher's Templates sec- 
tion launches Picture It!. 
This program helps you 
create a wide array of pro- 
jects, including photo al- 
bums, business and greeting 
cards, calendars, flyers, 
photo frames, stickers, and 
postcards, to name a few. 

But to find the files that 

make up the program, 
you'll need to open C:\PROGRAM 
FILES\PICTURE IT! PREMIUM 10. 
This folder contains eight folders and 
a number of miscellaneous (mostly 
image and data) files, including the 
all-important Pip.exe file, which 
opens the application. 

You can find the mother lode of 
image files, including PNG files, 
Tagged Image File Format files 
(TIF/TIFF), Enhanced Metafile For- 
mat files (EMF), and Graphic In- 
terchange Format files (GIF), in 
C:\PROGRAM FILES\PICTURE IT! 
PREMIUM 10\PIFILES. The 10 fol- 
ders contained here are bulging with 
hundreds of images you can use in 
your creative projects, from borders 
and edges to shapes and textures. 

Create a file. Whether you open a 
new file from Picture It!'s File menu, 
or open a template from the Task 
Launcher, you're opening an Unsaved 
Project. After you set up your page 
orientation, Picture It! opens the 
canvas on which you can complete 
your project. The program puts an 
impressive array of tools at your fin- 
gertips, including a new series of Auto 
Fix tools that take the guesswork out 
of cleaning up photos. 

Save a file. From this screen, you 
can select Save As from the File menu. 
By default, Windows will save your 



180 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



1?^ Suite Files 



project in My Documents as a Picture 
It! PNG Plus file (PNG). However, 
the program can save projects in and 
work with many other graphics file 
types, such as BMP, TGA, PCX, GIF, 
TIF, and JPEG. 

Other options in the File menu let 
you save a copy of your project, save 
the file as wallpaper for your system, 
and save it to the Web for sharing on- 
line or via email. 

Delete a file. Rid yourself of old 
projects and photos cluttering your 
hard drive by right-clicking the file 
name in the folder in which you saved 
them and choosing Delete. Or, with 
the Open command in the File menu 
in Picture It!, you can right-click the 
image of the photo or project and 
delete the file that way. 

Encarta Encyclopedia Standard 2005 

Unlike the previous programs in 
Works Suite that we've looked at, 
Encarta Encyclopedia Standard 2005 
exists simply to supply you with in- 
formation, not to help you create 
documents and projects. That's why 
everything about it, from the way it's 
installed on your PC to the way you 
interact with it, differs from the pre- 
vious suite components. 

If you opt for a typical installation 
of Works Suite 2005, some Encarta 
files will be loaded onto your hard 
drive and stored in two folders in 
C:\PROGRAMFILES\ENCARTA. The 
2005 Encarta Contents folder con- 
tains a lot of video (WMV) files. 
The Encarta Encyclopedia Standard 
2005 folder holds the executable file 
(Encarta.exe) that launches the pro- 
gram plus many supporting files, es- 
pecially graphics files. 

It used to be that encyclopedia pro- 
grams such as Encarta would rely on 
the installation disc in order to op- 
erate. PCs didn't boast the same hard 
drive sizes that current systems do, so 
launching the program meant pop- 
ping in the installation disc and ac- 
cessing much of the program's data 
from there. We're impressed with 



how much of Encarta's content, from 
videos of frog-eating bats to maps of 
the Shang Dynasty, you can store on 
your hard drive through a typical in- 
stallation. But be prepared to go on- 
line to access some content. 

Because you can't alter the contents 
of Encarta, except to update items via 
the Web or bookmark your favorite 
portions, there is no need to create, 
save, or delete files through this pro- 
gram. The good news, however, is 
that you can print much of the con- 
tent by choosing that option from the 
File menu. In addition, you can 
choose to display the new Encarta 
Search Bar from your Windows Task- 
bar so you have even quicker access to 
the program. 

Streets & Trips 2005 

Like Encarta, the approach to using 
Streets & Trips has changed signifi- 
cantly. When we installed Streets & 
Trips 2003 a couple of years ago, it in- 
stalled a few files on our system, but 
we had to insert the Run CD (#5 in 
the MS Works 2003 installation kit) 
to run the program. 

That's not the case anymore. With 
a typical installation of Works Suite 
2005, you'll install many files in 
C:\PROGRAMFILES\MICROSOFT 
STREETS AND TRIPS, including an 
executable file to run the program, an 
Answer Wizard file (AW), Help file 
(HLP), and various data and graphics 
files. You can still choose to use the 
Run CD. Also, be prepared to go on- 
line when using certain portions of 
the program. 

Create a file. The essence of Streets 
& Trips is finding destinations and 



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the 2005 version installs lots of files on your 
system, including run, answer, and help files. 



creating customized maps and other 
trip-planning documents. Not sur- 
prisingly, the program lets you create, 
save, print, and export files. 

A map of the United States will ap- 
pear on your screen first. You can use 
the Legend and Overview task pane 
to the left to change to any other 
world location and then employ the 
zooming tool to zero in on the precise 
spot you need. Once you made the 
necessary markings on your map, 
you'll need to . . . 

Save a file. From the File menu, 
choose Save As. By default Windows 
will save your map as a Streets & 
Trips file type (EST) in My Doc- 
uments. You also can save it as a Map 
Template (STT). Another option in 
the File menu lets you save your map 
creation as a Web page (HTM), com- 
plete with optional embedded hyper- 
links. Or, choose the Export Map for 
Pocket Streets command to save the 
map as an MPS file for a handheld 
device that runs Pocket Streets. 

Delete a file. If your hard drive, like 
your car's glove compartment, be- 
comes crammed with out-of-date 
maps, delete the EST and STT files 
you created by right-clicking the 
file name in your hard drive and 
choosing Delete. 

Find That File 

Though we didn't mention by 
name all the files included in MS 
Works Suite 2005, you now have a 
better understanding of the many 
types that are necessary to make these 
programs work and where you can 
access them, as well as the types of 
files that you can create with or use 
with this suite. 

Because of the new and improved 
Task Launcher, you won't often open 
the suite's programs "behind the 
scenes" as we did. But now, at least 
you know where to look should the 
need arise. \n\ 

by Rachel Derowitsch 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 181 



(£) Suite Files 



WordPerfect 
Office Suite 1 2 

Working With Files In Three Corel Apps 



Microsoft may 
be the king 
when it conies 
to operating systems, 
but office suite soft- 
ware is becoming an- 
other story. Although 
many still prefer the 
familiar screens of 
Excel, PowerPoint, 
and Word, more and 
more people are be- 
ginning to enjoy the 
features offered by the latest office 
suite from WordPerfect: WordPerfect 
Office 12. The standard version of this 
office suite includes WordPerfect 12, 
Quattro Pro 12, and Presentations 12. 
We'll show you the basics of working 
with each program, as well as a few 
neat ways to manipulate files in each 
of these programs. We've also in- 
cluded a list of files added 
to your computer when 
you install the software. 



WordPerfects 

As the name implies, 
WordPerfect 12 is the 
word processor for this 
suite. When you enter 
WordPerfect 12, you are 
greeted with a pop up that 
lets you choose what mode 
you want to launch your 
new document in. You 
can choose among Word- 
Perfect, WordPerfect Clas- 
sic, WordPerfect Legal, or 
Microsoft Word formats. 
There are various options 




that will be added or 
subtracted based on 
the format you choose. 
After you choose a 
mode to open in, you 
should be greeted with 
a new document. 
Whenever you are 
working with a single 
document and decide 
to close the file, Word- 
Perfect 12 will auto- 
matically start a fresh 
document for you. 

Templates. WordPerfect 12 offers a 
number of templates to aid in just 
about any office task. To open a tem- 
plate, click File, and then New From 
Project. If you're a keyboard shortcut 
fan, press CTRL-SHIFT-N. The 
PerfectExpert dialog box will pop up 
and show you the templates you can 



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When starting a new document in WordPerfect 1 2, you have the option of opening it 
in WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, WordPerfect Classic, or WordPerfect Legal mode. 



work with in WordPerfect 12. These 
templates include starting points for 
annual business reports, book reports, 
brochures, business cards, CD cases, 
and many more. You can view these 
files in C:\PROGRAM FILESYWORD 
PERFECT OFFICE 12\TEMPLATE. 
The WordPerfect 12 templates are the 
.WPT files. Click the template that 
suits you best and click Create. 

Save a WordPerfect 12 file. With 
the WordPerfect 12 word processor, 
you can make saving a file just about 
as easy or as complex as you'd like to. 
For a simple save, click File then Save 
or press CTRL-S. Your My Doc- 
uments folder is the default folder for 
saving your WordPerfect files. If this 
works for you, just click Save and 
you're done. Your file will be saved as 
a WordPerfect 12 document with a 
.WPD extension in My Documents. 

If you want to save your file in a dif- 
ferent location or on a different drive, 
you will want to click File then Save As 
(or press the F3 key), which brings up 
the Save As dialog box. From here you 
can choose a different location to save 
your file. If you want to change the de- 
fault folder, all you have to do is click 
Edit in the Save As box. If Change 
Default Folder doesn't have a check 
mark next to it, click it. If, however, it is 
already checked, just exit the Edit tab. 
In the Save In window 
click the drop-down menu 
and choose the folder you 
would like to store your 
WordPerfect documents 
in. This folder should now 
pop up in the Save In win- 
dow automatically when 
you go to the Save As box. 
You can also choose the 
file type you want the file 
to be saved as. To view 
your options, click the 
Down arrow located on 
the right side of the File 
Type field. This lists all 
the possible types of files 
your document can be 
saved as. Not only does 
this include versions and 






182 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



\r =k i Suite Files 



languages of WordPerfect, 
but you can also save the 
file for versions of Micro- 
soft Word, Word-Star, 
XyWrite III Plus, Win- 
dows Write, Office Write, 
Lotus 1-2-3, and more. 
Once you find the loca- 
tion and the file type that 
fits your needs best, click 
Save and you're done. 

Publish to the Internet. 
A neat feature of Word- 
Perfect 12 is its ability to 
convert files to HTML 
(Hypertext Markup Lan- 
guage), PDF (Portable 
Document Format), or 
XML (Extensible Markup 

Language) formats. You 

can use all of the file types when pub- 
lishing material to the Internet. The 
processes for all three of these pub- 
lishing languages are similar, so for 
example, let's say you want to publish 
a document to the Internet using the 
HTML format. First, you'll click file, 
then Publish To, and finally HTML. 
This will take you to the Publish To 
HTML dialog box. Here you can take 
a look at various publishing options 
including image quality options as 
well as modifying your HTML file 
name, if necessary. Once you check 
these options, click Publish to save 
your file in the .HTM format, and 
your document should be ready to go 
on the Internet. 

Delete a file. There are numerous 
ways to delete a WordPerfect 12 file. 
Here's an easy method. Click File in 
the menu bar, then Open. Once you 
find the file you're looking for, right 
click it, then click Delete in the pop- 
up list. Finally, click the Yes button in 
the window that asks you if you want 
to send the file to the Recycle Bin. You 
can also delete a file by clicking the file 
name and pressing the DELETE key. 
However, make sure the file you want 
to delete is closed. You won't be able 
to delete a file if it is open. 

A time-saver worth noting is that 
you don't necessarily need WordPerfect 



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With WordPerfect 12, you have the ability to publish material to the internet 
using HTML, PDF, or XML formats. 



12 open in order to delete its files. If you 
are cleaning out your My Documents 
folder and run across a WordPerfect 
document that you don't need any- 
more, just highlight the file and press 
DELETE, choose the Delete File option 
in the toolbar, or right-click it and 
choose Delete from the pop-up menu. 

QuattroPro 12 

Corel's WordPerfect Office Suite 12 
features Quattro Pro 12 as its spread- 
sheet-based program. Creating, saving, 
and deleting files in Quattro Pro is 
nearly identical to creating, saving, and 
deleting files in WordPerfect 12. As in 
WordPerfect 12, when you enter 
Quattro Pro 12 you can select different 
modes to work in. You can choose 
among Quattro Pro 12 mode, Micro- 
soft Excel mode, or Lotus 1-2-3 mode. 
Once you select the mode you want to 
work in, you will be taken directly to a 
blank spreadsheet to work with. If at 
any time you need a new blank spread- 
sheet, but don't want to lose your cur- 
rent work, you can either click File and 
then New or press CTRL-N. 

Templates. Similar to WordPerfect 
12, Quattro Pro 12 has its own set of 
templates. You can access these by 
clicking File then New From Project or 
by using the CTRL-SHIFT-N keyboard 



shortcut. After performing 
either of these combina- 
tions, the PerfectExpert di- 
alog box will pop up with 
all of the Quattro Pro 12 
Templates in it. You can 
choose from templates 
that help you with your 
personal budget, manage a 
retirement plan, create 
home equity comparisons, 
or create a statement of 
net worth. These template 
files are in the same folder 
as the Word-Perfect 12 
templates: C:\PROGRAM 
FILESVWORDPERFECT 
OFFICE 12VTEMPLATE. 
They are the files with the 

.QPW extension. 

Save a file. As in WordPerfect 12, all 
you have to do to save a file in Quattro 
Pro is press CTRL-S. You can also save 
by clicking File, and then Save. Quattro 
Pro will save the file in the default 
folder with a .QPW extension. You can 
also go the Save As route by pressing F3 
or by clicking File, and then Save As. 
The Save As dialog box has the same 
basic format as WordPerfect 12. It 
shows you what folder you are about to 
save your file in and what type of file 
you are about to save. If you want to 
change your default folder, the process 
is much the same as in WordPerfect. 
Click Edit and see if the Change 
Default Folder option is checked. If it 
isn't, click it. Then browse through 
your folders using the drop-down 
arrow that is located in the Save In di- 
alog box. Once you find the folder you 
want to set as your default, click it and 
it should appear in the Save In window. 
Once you find the correct folder to 
save the file in, you'll want to make 
sure you save the file as a type that will 
be flexible to work with. The default 
file extension is .QPW. This will let you 
open this file in any version of Quattro 
Pro from version 12 back to version 9. 
If you need to take a file home, where 
all you have is Microsoft Excel, click 
the File Type drop-down menu. Scroll 
until you see your version of Microsoft 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 183 



(£) Suite Files 



Excel and click it. If you 
use Microsoft Excel 2003, 
you should notice that 
your file will now be saved 
as an .XLS file. You can 
also save files as formats 
compatible with versions 
of Lotus 1-2-3, dBASE, 
and Paradox. Once you 
find the right file type, 
click Save and your file 
will be saved in the loca- 
tion you selected and as 
the file type you have set. 

Publish to the Internet. 
Another similarity be- 
tween Quattro Pro 12 and 
WordPerfect 12 is the 
ability to prepare files for 

Internet publishing. You 

can save Quattro Pro 12 files as both 
HTML and XML documents. To do 
this, click File, and then Publish To. 
Then select HTML or XML. If, for in- 
stance, you select HTML, a Publish To 
Internet box will pop up. Make sure 
that the range of cells you want pub- 
lished is in the Ranges And Charts To 
Convert field. If the range that you want 
to add isn't there, type the range in the 
window and click Add. As of now, your 
file will be saved for publishing in the 
default folder. If you want to change 
this folder, click the white folder icon 
that is to the right of the lo- 
cation listed in the Save 
File window. This will let 
you browse your folders 
until you find the right 
one, which you can click to 
select. Once this is com- 
plete, click OK and Quat- 
tro Pro will save your file in 
the folder you specified. 

Delete a file. To delete a 
file in Quattro Pro 12, click 
File followed by Open. 
Find the folder the file is in 
by using the arrow on the 
right side of the Look In 
window. Once you find 
the file you want to get rid 
of, highlight it and click 
the red X in the toolbar. A 




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Quattro Pro 12 offers you numerous templates to start from, including one 
that's designed to help keep your budget out of the red. 



message will pop up asking you if 
you're sure you want to send the file to 
the Recycle Bin. Click Yes, and your file 
will be deleted. You can also right-click 
the file and choose Delete from the 
pop-up menu. You can also press the 
DELETE key after highlighting the file. 

Presentations 12 

The ability to create a digital 
slideshow is becoming a staple skill for 
anyone looking to climb the corporate 
ladder. These presentations offer an 




With the ability to easily manage templates and create 3D charts, Corel 
Presentations 12 makes creating professional-looking displays simple. 



easy way to create a 
product that looks profes- 
sional and demands re- 
spect for the author and 
his respective enterprise. 
Although MS PowerPoint 
has established itself as the 
big name in digital slide- 
show software, Corel's 
Presentations 12, is noth- 
ing to shake a stick at. 

Templates. The tem- 
plates of Presentations 12 
work a little differently 
than those with Quattro 
Pro 12 and WordPerfect 
12, but are still extremely 
easy to work with. When 
you launch Presentations 

12, you will first be asked 

if you'd like to run in Presentations 
12 mode or in a format compatible 
with Microsoft PowerPoint. After you 
choose your mode, instead of taking 
you to a blank document, you'll go 
right to the PerfectExpert dialog box 
to choose a template you want to 
work with. These choices include 
slideshow templates for Budget 
Reports, Business Plans, Market 
Research, or Teaching and Training. 

If you don't choose a template, the 
Startup Master Gallery will appear 
when you close PerfectExpert. This 
gallery contains several 
slide samples from dif- 
ferent categories. These 
categories are 35mm, 
Color, Design, Kmt, Print- 
out, and Theme. Each of 
these categories contains 
various color samples that 
give you an idea of what 
your slides will look like. 

After you select a look 
for your slideshow, you 
will see a blank slide in the 
style you chose. Now you 
can add titles and other 
text. If you ever want 
to start a new slideshow 
while you're in Presenta- 
tions 12, click File then 
New or press CTRL-N, 



184 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Ir^l Suite Files 



just like the other programs we've dis- 
cussed in this suite. Instead of starting 
at a blank document, however, this 
will take you back to the Startup 
Master Gallery, so you can choose the 
look you want for your new slideshow. 

Just like Quattro and WordPerfect, 
the templates to Presentation are found 
in C:\PROGRAM FILES\WORD- 
PERFECT OFFICE 12\TEMPLATE. 
However, Presentation's templates 
have a .PRT extension. 

Save a file. This is exactly like saving 
files in the other two programs. Simply 
click File, then Save, or press CTRL-S. 
This will save your document in the 
default folder as a Presentations 12 
Show file with a .SHW extension. 

You also have save options with this 
program, as well. You can change the 
default folder in exactly the same way 
as in Quattro Pro 12 and WordPerfect 
12. However, the file types you can 
work with are different. As we men- 
tioned earlier, when you go to the 
Save As dialog box, the default file 
type is .SHW; but you can also save 
presentations as files for Microsoft 
PowerPoint, MacPaint, WordPerfect 
Graphics, or Corel PHOTO-PAINT. 

Publish to the Internet. Like the rest 
of this suite, you also have the ability to 
publish Presentations 12 files to the 
Internet. There are a couple ways you 
can do this. You can click File, Publish 
To, and then select the format of your 
choice. If you click PDF, you'll be taken 
to the Publish To PDF dialog box. Here 
you can set up various preferences, 
such as where the file will be stored and 
what version of Adobe Acrobat the file 
will be compatible with. If you choose 
XML, all you have to do is pick a spot 
to save the file to and click OK. 

If you want to use HTML you'll use 
the Internet Publisher. Go to File and 
click Internet Publisher. If you 
haven't already saved your document, 
you will be prompted to do so. After 
you save you'll go into the Internet 
Publisher. This program will guide 
you through 1 1 screens, at the end of 
which you'll have your file saved in 
the folder of your choice. 



Delete a file. This is also the same as 
Quattro Pro and WordPerfect. Click 
File, then Open. Search for the file you 
want to get rid of. Once you've found it, 
you can click it once and then click the 
red X in the Open File toolbar, or you 
can right-click the file and click Delete 
in the drop-down menu. After you do 
either of these, you'll have to confirm 
you want to send the file to the Recycle 
Bin by clicking Yes in the window that 
appears. You will not be able to delete 
the file if it is currently open, so make 
sure it's closed. You can also delete the 
file if you're sifting through the files on 
your hard drive via My Computer. 



Sweet Suite 

As you can see, there isn't a lot in- 
volved in creating, saving, modifying, 
or deleting files in Corel's WordPerfect 
Office 12. Whether working with text 
spreadsheets or slideshows, you're 
sure to have a fairly easy time if you 
use this suite. And even though mil- 
lions may choose to stick with the 
Microsoft Office Suite, you can sleep 
easy knowing that when you're using 
this suite, you can still make your files 
compatible with theirs, [fs] 

by Sam Evans 



Go Deeper With Hundreds Of Files 



As you might expect, an office suite such as WordPerfect Office 12 requires the 
use of hundreds of files. Here's a list of WordPerfect Office's files found in 
C:\PROCRAM FILES\WORDPERFECT OFFICE 12. These files are added to your 
computer when you install this suite. I 



3DA File 

3MD File 

3TF File 

ActiveX Control 

Adobe Acrobat Document 

Application 

Application Extension 

AST File 

BIN File 

Bitmap Image 

CC File 

Microsoft Office Outlook 

Configuration File 

CNT File 

Configuration Settings 

Control Panel Extension 

CW_ File 

DIB File 

D2B File 

DAT File 

DBF File 

DCL File 

DEC File 

DTD File 

ENT File 

Exchange Certificate File 

EXT File 

FLT File 

FMTFile 

GIF Image 

Help File 

HTML Document 

Icon 

ID File 

INK File 

Internet Shortcut 

JPEG Image 

J Script Script File 



Extension 


Number 




i 


.3DA 


23 : 


.3MD 


44 : 


.3TF 


76 


.OCX 


1 ; 


.PDF 


i : 


.EXE 


25 : 


.DLL 


292 


.AST 


51 ; 


.BIN 


4 : 


.BMP 


351 : 


.CC 


17 


.CFG 


12 ; 


.CNT 


35 : 


.INI 


37 


.CPL 


29 ; 


.CW_ 


4 : 


.DIB 


i6 : 


.D2B 


16 


.DAT 


4 


.DBF 


4 : 


.DCL 


2 : 


.DEC 


3 


.DTD 


25 ; 


.ENT 


39 : 


.EPF 


i : 


.EXT 


1 . 


.FLT 


89 


.FMT 


i ; 


.GIF 


22 : 


.HLP 


39 


.HTM 


3 


.ICO 


13 : 


.ID 


i : 


.INK 


1 . 




1 • 


JPG 


25 : 


JS 


i ; 



File Type 


Extension 


Number 
Of Files 


LIT File 


.LIT 


19 


MANIFEST File 


.MANIFEST 


1 


MAP File 


.MAP 


2 


MIDI Sequence 


.MID 


12 


MOD File 


.MOD 


13 


NDX File 


.NDX 


1 


PAL File 


.PAL 


1 


Perfect Fit Component 


.PFC 


8 


D erfectScript 


.WCM 


40 


Presentations 12 Drawing 


.WPG 


190 


Presentations 12 Master 


.MST 


54 


Presentations 1 2 Show 


.SHW 


1 


Presentations 12 Template 


.PRT 


11 


PRO File 


.PRO 


1 


QRS File 


.QRS 


1 


Quattro Pro 12 Notebook 


.QPW 


33 


}ich Text Format 


.RTF 


1 


Scrapbook File 


.SRB/.SRI 


2 


Security Catalog 


.CAT 


4 


SET File 


.SET 


18 


Setup Information 


.INF 


2 


STY File 


.STY 


1 


Text Document 


.DIC/.TXT 


10 


TLB File 


TLB 


4 


TPA File 


TPA 


1 


TV File 


TV 


18 


TVC File 


TVC 


18 


TXR File 


TXR 


1 


Ul File 


.Ul 


2 


Video Clip 


.AVI 


3 


WK1 File 


.WK1 


1 


WordPerfect 1 2 Document 


.WPT 


60 


WordPerfect Label Definition 


.LAB 


8 


WPC File 


.WPC 


22 


WPX File 


.WPX 


1 


Write Document 


.WRI 


1 


XML Document 


.XML 


2 


XPLFile 


.XPL 


1 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 185 



(£) Suite Files 



Woriong With 
StaK)ffice7 

File Formats & More In Sun's Office Suite 




An OS (operating system) is nec- 
essary for every computer, but 
there's another OS that you 
can't do much without; the office 
suite. Unlike Microsoft's Office 
Standard Edition 2003 and Profes- 
sional Edition 2003, which sell for 
$399 and $499, respectively, StarOffice 
can provide all the office productivity 
applications you need without emp- 
tying your wallet. With an MSRP 
(manufacturer's suggested retail price) 
of about $80, the StarOffice 7 suite in- 
cludes a word processor, spreadsheet 
application, presentation tool, and 
drawing tool. 

StarOffice's new and improved in- 
teroperability features have made by- 
passing Microsoft Office easier than 
ever. Sun has updated StarOffice 7 in 
a number of ways since the previous 
release, expanding support for various 



formatting elements of Microsoft's 
text files, graphics, charts, spread- 
sheets, and presentations. StarOffice 7 
now lets you convert documents to 
PDF (Portable Document Format), 
even without Adobe products in- 
stalled on your system. You can also 
export StarOffice presentations and 
graphics as Macromedia Flash files, 
which is a common format for Web- 
based media. Another new feature is 
the Macro Recorder, which lets users 
automate common tasks by assigning 
shortcut keys to a series of keystrokes 
and mouse clicks. 

System requirements. Sun's Star- 
Office 7 works with a variety of plat- 
forms, including Windows, Linux, 
and Solaris, each with differing 
system requirements. Windows users 
need Windows 98, Windows ME, 
Windows NT (Service Pack 6 or 



higher), Windows 2000 (Service Pack 
2 or higher) or Windows XP, as well 
as a Pentium-compatible PC, 64MB 
of RAM, 300MB of free hard disk 
space, and at least a 256-color 800 x 
600 resolution monitor. 

Install. If you have AutoRun en- 
abled on your system, the installation 
program should automatically select 
the version of StarOffice suited for 
your operating system and begin once 
you insert the CD into your optical 
drive. Simply follow the steps to set 
up StarOffice on your machine. If the 
AutoRun feature is disabled, you'll 
have to open My Computer, double- 
click the optical drive that contains 
the StarOffice disk, and then double- 
click the WINDOWS folder. Next 
double-click the OFFICE7 folder, 
navigate to the Setup.exe file, and 
double-click it to launch the installer. 

During installation, you'll be 
prompted to select the file types to 
be opened with StarOffice 7. Check 
the boxes beside Microsoft Word, 
Excel, and PowerPoint if you want 
StarOffice to be your default office 
suite. This dialog box also lets you 
make StarOffice your default HTML 
(Hypertext Markup Language) editor. 

An up-to-date Java Runtime Envi- 
ronment is necessary for some of 
StarOffice's functions. If you already 
have Java version 1.4.1_01 or newer, 
the installation will let you use that 
version. If you have an earlier version 
of Java, or none at all, you can choose 
to install it now or just continue the 
installation process without installing 
Java. If you proceed without Java, you 
won't be able to use StarOffice with 
Java Applets (small applications em- 
bedded in Web pages), and JavaScript 
(a programming language typically 
used for interactive Web pages). 

Directory structure. StarOffice 7 in- 
stalls by default in the C:\PROGRAM 
FILES\STAROFFICE7 directory, but 
you can change this location during the 
installation process. The STAROF- 
FICE7 directory contains the HELP, 
PROGRAM, SHARE, and USER sub- 
folders. The HELP folder contains a 



186 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(£) Suite Files 



series of subfolders and files that per- 
tain to StarOffice's help resources. The 
PROGRAM folder features several exe- 
cutable files, such as the StarOffice 
suite executable and the Quickstarter 
System Tray item, as well as DLL 
(Dynamic Link Library) files, and other 
pertinent program files. For the most 
part, the SHARED folder contains 





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AutoPilots are useful wizards that can walk you through the 
process of drafting formal documents, complicated spread- 
sheets, and detailed presentations. 



images in the form of Vector Graphic 
Metafiles and GIF (Graphic Inter- 
change Format) files, as well as various 
StarOffice Gallery files. The USER 
folder holds configuration files and 
styles data. The remaining files in the 
STAROFFICE7 directory consist of 
TXT and HTML versions of the license 
agreement and README files; short- 
cuts for the StarOffice suite and instal- 
lation program; a third-party license 
agreement in HTML format; and a 
.LOCK file, which is a type of .NET 
framework database file. .NET frame- 
work files are used in creating Web- 
based applications and services. 

StarOffice Writer 

The word processor is probably the 
office suite's most popular applica- 
tion. StarOffice Writer is useful for 
drafting business letters, memos, 
faxes, resumes, and other documents. 
This application also includes a spell 



checker, thesaurus, AutoCorrect and 
hyphenation tools, and multiple tem- 
plates to help you get started. 

File formats. The document types 
for StarOffice 7 have changed little 
since the previous StarOffice release. 
When you create text files using the 
StarOffice Writer, you have the option 
to save them in a variety of formats. 
By default, any file you 
save using StarOffice 
Writer will appear with 
the .SXW extension. 
You can also create and 
save form letters or doc- 
uments you use fre- 
quently as templates, 
which have the .STW 
extension. Master doc- 
uments, or documents 
that act as a container 
for several uniquely 
formatted files, feature 
the .SXG extension. You 
can also save documents 
and templates using 
.SDW and .VOR for- 

mats, which were used 

in StarOffice versions 
3, 4, and 5. 

If you want to create files to share 
with non-StarOffice users, don't save 
the files as native StarOffice formats 
(.SXW, .STW, and .SXG). To access a 
StarOffice file using Microsoft Word 
6.0, 95, 97, 2000, or XP, save it as a 
DOC (Document) file. Other Star- 
Office Writer formats include RTF 
(Rich Text Format) and TXT (Text), 
which are both based on the ASCII 
(American Standard Code for Infor- 
mation Interchange) character set and 
widely supported across various plat- 
forms and applications. If you save a 
document as a non-native StarOffice 
format, you may get a pop-up in- 
forming you that some of your for- 
matting could be lost. 

Starting StarOffice Writer. The 
C:\PROGRAM FILES\STAROFFICE7 
directory contains the StarOffice 7 
shortcut, which actually launches 
a blank document in the Writer 
application. Another way to start 



StarOffice Writer is to click the 
Start button, highlight All Programs, 
select StarOffice 7, and then click 
Text Document from the list of 
StarOffice applications. 

Templates and AutoPilots. Once a 
blank document is open, you can 
click File, highlight New, and then 
click Templates And Documents to 
browse the various templates, which 
can help you with drafting formal 
documents and difficult to layout 
items. For instance, if you want to 
create printable business cards, click 
the New Document icon from the left 
pane, click Business Cards, and then 
click Open to initiate a wizard that 
walks you through the process. 

Clicking the Templates icon from 
the left pane of the Templates And 
Documents dialog box displays 10 
folders with labels such as Business 
Correspondence, Finances, Forms 
And Contracts, and Presentations. 
Double-click any of the folders to ac- 
cess the corresponding templates. For 
example, double-clicking the Business 
Correspondence folder displays six 
templates in elegant or modern style 
for faxes, letters, and memos. 

With a blank document, you can 
also click File, highlight AutoPilot, 
and then click Letter, Fax, Agenda, or 
Memo to run a wizard that will help 
you design and create professional- 
looking documents. The AutoPilot 
lets you choose a style, add graphics, 
adjust margins, insert footers and 
headers, and include logos, all with- 
out having to worry about layout. 

Save, close, and delete documents. 
When saving a newly created docu- 
ment for the first time, click File and 
Save As to choose a location and name 
for your file. When you've finished 
working on a document, click File and 
then click Save. You can also save a file 
at any point by simply pressing CTRL- 
S. If you click the Close Document 
icon in the upper-right corner of the 
document window without saving 
your work, a pop-up warning will 
ask if you want to Save, Discard, or 
Cancel. The Discard command is 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 187 



(£) Suite Files 



equivalent to Microsoft Office's No 
command. Clicking Save or Discard 
will close the document, while Cancel 
will keep the document open. 

You can delete StarOffice Writer 
documents in the same way that you 
delete any document, from within 
Windows Explorer or My Computer. 
Documents designated Read-Only 
cannot be deleted. If you're currently 
working on a particular document, 
you'll have to close it before you can 
delete it. For another way to delete 
documents, click File, select either Save 
As or Open, right-click the file you 
want to delete, and then click Delete. 

StarOffice Cak 

Sun's answer to Microsoft Excel is 
StarOffice Calc, a spreadsheet applica- 
tion that accepts both native StarOffice 
XML (Extensible Markup Language)- 
based file formats, such as SXC (for 
Calc spreadsheets) and STC (for Calc 
templates). Older versions of StarOffice 
used the SDC format for Calc spread- 
sheets, and StarOffice 7 still supports 
these by letting you save, open, and edit 
files created in this format. 

File formats. Aside from the SXC, 
STC, and SDC formats unique to 
StarOffice, Calc also handles Micro- 
soft's Excel spreadsheet extensions 
.XLS and .XLW, as well as the tem- 
plates extension .XLT. Other file for- 
mats you can use with Calc include 
DIF (Data Interchange Format); DBF 
(dBase files); SLK (Symbolic Link) 
files, which appear as ASCII charac- 
ters; HTML or HTM, for viewing in a 
Web browser; and Text CSV (comma 
separated value) format, which 
arranges the data in a text document 
and separates the values with commas. 

You can open, edit, and save any 
of the above file types using Star- 
Office Calc. You can even convert a 
file to another format for use with 
Microsoft's products or the Web, al- 
though some complicated spreadsheets 
may not translate perfectly to all 
supported types. As with StarOffice 
Writer, a pop-up will warn you if some 



formatting or formula loss is likely to 
happen when converting a file. 

Starting StarOffice Calc. To Start 
StarOffice Calc, click the Start button, 
highlight All Programs, select Star- 
Office 7, and then click Spreadsheet 
from the list of StarOffice applica- 
tions. If you configured StarOffice to 
open Microsoft Excel files, you can 
simply double-click an Excel file or an 
SXC, STC, or SDC file to start Calc. 
You can also use the StarOffice 
Quickstarter to start Calc. Simply 
right-click the icon from the System 
Tray and click Spreadsheet. 

Save, close, and delete documents. 
If you're saving a spreadsheet for the 
first time, the Save As dialog box 
opens automatically and lets you 
choose a location and name for your 
spreadsheet. You can also choose the 
format in which you want to save the 
spreadsheet by clicking the Down 
arrow beside the Save As Type field. 





B J U | 


=- 


-=- -= 


j \3 a ii j i si 


B I U i| i 1 1 



The top image is a view of the StarOffice 
Writer toolbar. It looks strikingly similar 
to the bottom image, which shows 
Microsoft Word's toolbar. 

Calc has several ways to save your 
spreadsheet. The quickest way is to 
press CTRL-S, or you can click the 
floppy diskette icon from the toolbar. 
You can also click File and Save. To 
close a spreadsheet, first make sure 
you have saved your work, or if you 
don't care to save your changes, 
click the Close Document icon in the 
upper-right corner of the spreadsheet 
window, and then click Discard. 

To delete Calc spreadsheets, navi- 
gate to the files you want to delete 



with Windows Explorer, right-click 
them and then click Delete. You can 
also drag them into the Recycle Bin. 
Note that you can't delete Read-Only 
spreadsheets or documents that are 
currently open. 

StarOffice Impress 

The StarOffice equivalent to Micro- 
soft's PowerPoint is called Impress, 
which you can use to create graphical 
slide shows and presentations. Like 
PowerPoint, Impress lets you add 
sounds, images, text, animations, and 
transition effects to your presenta- 
tions. Impress also features templates 
to help you get started. 

File formats. Impress handles pre- 
sentation files with an .SXI extension 
and .STI files, which are Impress 
templates. With Impress you can also 
open, edit, and save non-native Star- 
Office documents, such as Microsoft 
PowerPoint presentations and tem- 
plates, which feature .PPT, .PPS, and 
.POT extensions. Impress can also 
open and save documents with the 
.SXD extension, which are Star- 
Office Draw files. Other file types 
Impress juggles include SDD, SDA, 
and VOR, which are assigned to older 
versions of StarOffice Impress files 
and templates. 

Starting StarOffice Impress. To 
Start StarOffice Impress, click the 
Start button, highlight All Programs, 
select StarOffice 7, and then click 
Presentation from the list of applica- 
tions. If you already have a StarOffice 
Writer, Calc, or Draw document 
open, you can click File, highlight 
New, and then click Presentation. 
Clicking Presentation from the 
Quickstarter System Tray icon also 
provides instant access to Impress. 

For each new presentation, an 
AutoPilot launches to walk you 
through the process of creating 
a presentation. Click the Create 
button to exit the AutoPilot at any 
time. You can also choose an ex- 
isting presentation template for 
items such as a Company Finance 



188 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Ir^l Suite Files 



Report, or a Training Seminar. 
If StarOffice has been properly 
configured, double-clicking Mi- 
crosoft PowerPoint and Im- 
press files automatically opens 
the file with Impress. 

Save, close, and delete docu- 
ments. As with other StarOffice 
applications, Impress can save, 
open, and edit files in various 
supported formats, but compli- 
cated charts and inserted ele- 
ments may not translate from one 
file type to the next. Click the 
Save button from the toolbar or click 
File, then Save or Save As to preserve 
your changes. As long as the file has 
been saved, clicking the red X in the 
upper-right corner of the document 
window will close it. To delete Im- 
press files, you can drag them to the 
Recycle Bin or right-click them, click 
Delete, and then click Yes. Open doc- 
uments and Read-Only files are pro- 
tected from deletion. 

StarOffice Draw 

This application doesn't have a 
Microsoft Office counterpart but lets 
you create and edit graphics to use in 
other StarOffice documents. New 
Draw documents resemble Writer 
documents, with an 8.5-inch x 11- 
inch blank work space. A toolbar on 
the left side of the document window 
includes various icons for creating 3D 




Select the file types that are to be opened with j tar Office 7 
StarOffice 7 will automatically open the following file types 



T~ Microsoft Word Documents 

r Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets 

P Microsoft PowerPoint Presentations 



Defarll: HTML ill'tu: 



v ItirOn-ice 7 Witerffleb 



During installation, you can choose to make StarOffice 
the default viewer for Microsoft office documents. 



objects, rectangles, ellipses, and lines, 
as well as icons for inserting text, ob- 
jects, and adding effects. 

File formats. StarOffice Draw isn't 
an all-in-one graphics converting 
tool, and for that reason you can't 
save Draw files to universally accepted 
formats. Draw's native document and 
template formats feature the .SXD 
and .STD extensions. You can access 
previous version of Draw files, such 
as SDA, SDD, and VOR, with Star- 
Office 7's Draw application. You can 
open and edit some common files 
types, such as BMP (Bitmap), JPEG 
(Joint Photographic Experts Group), 
GIF, TIFF (Tagged Image File For- 
mat), and PNG (Portable Network 
Graphics) files. 

Starting StarOffice Draw. To open 
Draw, you can either navigate to the 
StarOffice program group in the 
Start menu and select Drawing, or 



right-click the Quickstarter icon 
from the System Tray and then 
click Drawing. Double-clicking 
any native Draw format will also 
launch the application. 

Save, close, and delete docu- 
ments. The first time you attempt 
to save a Draw document, the 
Save As dialog box instructs you 
to choose a location and name for 
the file. Click the Save icon from 
the toolbar or click File and 
then Save to save your progress. 
Closing Draw files is as easy as 
clicking the X in the upper-right 
corner of the document window. 
Closing the Draw application win- 
dows will have the same effect. 

If you want to delete Draw files, 
you can do so from the Open File and 
Save As dialog boxes. You can also 
navigate to the undesired files and 
drag them to the Recycle Bin or right- 
click them and click Delete. 

More Bang, Fewer Bucks 

The applications that make up 
StarOffice 7 deliver the same office 
productivity as Microsoft's Office suite, 
but at a fraction of the cost. As we went 
to print, Sun Microsystems was of- 
fering a beta version of StarOffice 8 
for download from www.sun.com 
/software/star/staroffice/beta. [Ss] 

by Andrew Leibman 



OpenOffice: Office Productivity On The Cheap 



OpenOffice provides 
thrifty users with free 
office productivity applica- 
tions. StarOffice and Open- 
Office actually share the 
same source code, and users 
of both will notice that most 
applications and features are 
identical. OpenOffice fea- 
tures Writer, Calc, Impress, 
and Draw. 

In spite of OpenOffice's 
open-source nature, some of 



StarOffice's code is held back 
due to license agreements 
with third-party companies. 
As a result, OpenOffice lacks 
some Asian language and 
other fonts, the add-on data- 
base component (Adabas 
D), as well as some tem- 
plates, clip art, sorting func- 
tionality, and file filters. 
OpenOffice users also will 
not have support from 
Sun Microsystems. 



Both StarOffice and its 
open-source counterpart 
share the same file formats 
and Microsoft Office inter- 
operability. However, 
OpenOffice benefits from 
the large community of 
users and developers who 
add functionality to the 
suite. OpenOffice supports 
more than 26 languages 
(some incomplete), com- 
pared to StarOffice's 10 



languages. OpenOffice also 
supports a number of addi- 
tional platforms, including 
Linux PowerPC, Mac OS X, 
FreeBSD, IRIX, and Linux/ 
390/HPUnix. 

As of this writing, 
www.openoffice.org was of- 
fering OpenOffice version 
1.1.4, as well as a beta ver- 
sion of OpenOffice 2.0, 
which weigh in at 64MB 
and 82MB, respectively. I 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 189 



File Extension Index 



Identify File Types 

Look Up Unknown File Extensions In This Index 



This index will help you identify hundreds of different file 
types. We can't cover every file type in print, but you 
can find information on other file extensions by searching 
the Online Dictionary at www.smartcomputing.com. 



.3D— Three-dimensional object 
file used in Stereo CAD-3D 2.0, 
from Antic Software 

.3D2— Three-dimensional object 
file used in Stereo CAD-3D 2.0, 
from Antic Software 

■3D2— Three-dimensional 
graphics file created in 
CyberSculpt, a 3D modeling pro- 
gram for the Atari ST computer 

.3D4— Three-dimensional object 
file used in Stereo CAD-3D 2.0, 
from Antic Software 

.3DM— Three-dimensional object 
file found in the Rhino 3D mod- 
eler application, from McNeel 
Software 

■3DMF— Three-dimensional 
graphics metafile used in 
Quickdraw 3D, from Apple 

.JDS— Three-dimensional object 
file used in AutoDesk 3D-Studio 
and 3D-Studio MAX, from 
Kinetix / Autodesk 

.3DX— Three-dimensional 
graphics file used in various 
applications 

.8PBS— Native bit map graphics 
Macintosh file created by Adobe 
Photoshop 



.A— Library file used with the Unix 
operating system 

.A6P— File created by Authorware 
6.0, software from Macromedia 
for developing training programs 

.AB— File created in Applix 
Builder, a developer program 
from SuSE Linux 

.AB3— Album file created in Ulead 
System's PhotoImpact Album 
program 

.ABC-File used in ABC 



Flowcharter from Micrografx 

.ABF-Adobe Binary Font file, 
used in Adobe Acrobat, a pro- 
gram that converts documents to 
Adobe Portable Document 
Format files (see .PDF) 

.ABK-Automatic Backup file, 
found in CorelDRAW family of 
graphics applications 

.ABK— Backup file created in 
PrintMaster Gold, a family of 
drawing applications from 
Broderbund 

.ABL— Script file used in Microsoft 
Flight Simulator 2002 

.ABM— Audio album file created 
by HitPlayer, a digital recording 
and playing application from 
Aztec Radiomedia / Digigram 

.ABO— File created in Applix 
Builder Turbo, a developer pro- 
gram from SuSE Linux 

.ABS— Audio Sound file used with 
MPEG players. MPEG stands for 
Moving Pictures Experts Group, a 
committee that sets the compres- 
sion standard for digital audio 
and video files 

.ACA-HTTP (Hypertext transfer 
protocol) file used in Microsoft 
Agent, a program that enhances 
applications and Web pages with 
interactive animated characters 

.ACD— Character definition file 
used in Microsoft Agent, a pro- 
gram that enhances applications 
and Web pages with interactive 
animated characters 

.ACF-HTTP (Hypertext transfer 
protocol) character file used in 
Microsoft Agent, a program that 
enhances applications and Web 
pages with interactive animated 
characters 

.ACL— Keyboard accelerator file 
found in CorelDRAW version 6 



.ACIVI— Audio Compression 
Manager file found in Microsoft 
Windows operating systems 
(Windows 95 and newer) 

.AD— After Dark screen saver file 
created by Berkeley Systems 

.ADN-Add-In file found in the 
Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program 

.ADP— Project file found in Access 
(Microsoft Office) 2002 

.AEP— Project file found in 
ArcExplorer, a family of geo- 
graphic information system 
(GIF), or mapping, data viewers 
from ESRI 

.AER— File used in Adobe 
Atmosphere (2001 release date) 

.AF2-File used in ABC 
Flowcharter 2.0 from Micrografx 

.AFJ-File used in ABC 
Flowcharter 3.0 from Micrografx 

.AFI— Bit map graphic file format 
created by Truevision 

.Al— Vector graphic file associated 
with Adobe Illustrator (1987 

release) 

.AIF— Audio Interchange File, a 
sound format used in Macintosh 
applications 

.AIS— Instrument file found in 
Velvet Studio, a digital music 
tracker from Velvet Development 

.ALL— Printer information file 
used with the WordPerfect for 
Window word-processing 
program 

.ALL— Library file used in graphics 
applications from Arts & Letters 

.AMI— Annotation file found in 
SolidDesigner, a CAD program 
from CoCreate 

.AMS— Music module file found 
in Velvet Studio, a digital music 
tracker from Velvet Development 

.ANI— Animated Cursor file intro- 
duced in Microsoft Windows 95 
and used in subsequent Windows 
operating systems 

.ANM— Animation file used in 
the Deluxe Paint program 



from Electronic Arts 

.ANT— Saved game file created by 
SimAnt, a simulation game from 
Maxis/Electronic Arts 

.APD— Printer driver file used in 
Lotus 1-2-3 

.API— Application Program 
Interface file found in Adobe 
Acrobat 

.API— Printer driver information 
filed used in Lotus 1-2-3 

.APP— Generated Application file 
used in Microsoft Visual FoxPro 
database programs 

.APR-Project file used with 
Arc View, a line of mapping and 
GIS applications from RockWare, 
Inc. 

.ARC— Compressed file created 
in ARC, an older archiving and 
compression format 

.ARK— Archive file found in 
Quark desktop publishing 
applications 

.ART— Clip Art file, found in var- 
ious applications 

.ART- ART (Another Ray Tracer), 
a three-dimensional object file 
created by Tom Wilson and used 
in the ART ray tracer for the Unix 
operating system 

.ASC— Text file created using the 
characters of ASCII (American 
Standard Code for Information 
Interchange), a system of com- 
puter coding that allows for easy 
transfer of data between applica- 
tions: Thus, a variety of programs 
can read an .ASC file 

.ASD— File used in Astound 
Presentation 

.ASD— Autosave file created by 
Microsoft's WinWord 

.ASE— Sample file found in Velvet 
Studio, a digital music tracker 
from Velvet Development 

.ASF— Data file found in 
StatGraphics, a data analysis pro- 
gram from Manugistics 

.ASM— Assembly file used in 



190 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q File Extension Index 



Pro/ENGINEER, a 3D engi- 
neering program from PTC 

.ASP— Active Server Page file used 
in Microsoft's FrontPage, a Web 
site creation program 

.ASP— File type created and used 
by the Association of Shareware 
Professionals, a group of program 
creators that lets users try an ap- 
plication before purchasing it 

.AU— Generic audio file used with 
various audio applications 

.AVI— Audio Video Interleave 
video format file for use with 
Microsoft Video for Windows 

.AW— Document file associated 
with Applix Words application 

.AW— Answer Wizard file found 
in Microsoft Works Suite 2002 

.AWS-Data file found in 
StatGraphics, a data analysis pro- 
gram from Manugistics 



.B— Batch list file used in 
Applause, data-accessing applica- 
tions from CUESoft.com 

.BAD— Bad, or corrupted, file 
found in various applications 

■BAK— Backup file found in nu- 
merous applications, such as the 
data backup file (data.bak) used 
in Microsoft programs 

.BAS— NetBasic script files found 
in Novell Netware 

.BAS-Source code file for BASIC, 
a programming language devel- 
oped in 1963 

.BAT— Batch file, which contains a 
series of commands for a comput- 
er's operating system, in DOS 
(disk operating system) 

.BBM— Brush Bitmap image file in 
the Deluxe Paint application from 
Electronic Arts 

.BBS— Text file used on a Bulletin 
Board System, an Internet-based 
electronic messaging center 

.BCF— 1-2-3 data-configuration 
file used in Lotus SmartSuite 

■BCM— Communications file 
found in Microsoft Works 

■BDB— Database file found in 
Microsoft Works 

.BDR-Border file in Microsoft 
Publisher 

■BEZ— Three-dimensional object 



file (Object Oriented Graphics 
Library format) developed at the 
University of Minnesota's 
Geometry Center for use with the 
Geomview application 

.BFC— Briefcase document file 
found in Microsoft Windows op- 
erating systems 

.BFF— Three-dimensional object 
file (binary) found in the 
WorldTookKit graphics program, 
from Sense8 

.BFX— Fax document file for Bitfax 
Professional, from Cheyenne 
Software 

.BC— Saved game file created in 
Microsoft's Backgammon gaming 
application 

.BCL— Scenery file found in 
Microsoft's Flight Simulator 
gaming application 

Bl (also .BIN)-Binary file. 
Binary is a numbering scheme 
in which there are only two 
digits: and 1. A binary file con- 
tains information stored only in 
this format 

.BIF— Initialization file used in 
GroupWise, a family of email and 
collaboration applications from 
Novell 

.BIFF— Binary Interchange File 
Format, which stores data for the 
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet ap- 
plication 

.BIN-see .Bl 

.BIO-BIOS (basic input/output 
system) file used in IBM's OS/2 
operating system 

.BIZ— Three-dimensional object 
file created in dVS, from Division 
Ltd. 

.BK!— Document-backup file in 
Corel WordPerfect for Windows 
applications 

.BK— Faxbook file associated with 
JetFax 

.BKS— Backup file used in 
Microsoft Works Spreadsheet 

.BLK— Temporary file found in 
Corel WordPerfect for Windows 
applications 

.BLP— User-information (personal 
data) file created in Broderbund 
Business Lawyer 

.BH/I— Bit-mapped file found in 
MS Windows operating systems 

.BMF— Image file used in Corel 



GALLERY family of image soft- 
ware 

.BIWK-Help Bookmark file used 
in Microsoft Windows 3.X 

.BMP— Bit-mapped graphics file 
for Windows or OS/2 operating 
systems, found in such applica- 
tions as CorelDRAW. A bit 
map is a type of graphics file in 
which bits (binary digits) repre- 
sent tiny squares of the image's 
colors 

.BPS- Microsoft Works document 
file 

.BPT-Bit map fills file for 
CorelDRAW family of graphics 
applications 

.BPX— Targa bit map graphics file 
created by Truevision, Inc. 

.BRF— Briefing file used in 
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 

.BRL— File created in Beautiful 
Report Language, a dialect of the 
Scheme programming language 

.BRL— Three-dimensional object 
file found in the BRL-CAD pro- 
gram, from the Ballistic Research 
Laboratory of the U.S. Army 

.BSC— Compressed archive file 
used with Apple II 

.BSP-Map file created for id 
Software's Quake gaming 
application 

.BTM-Batch file used in Norton 
Utilities programs (see .BAT) 

.BTR— Database file found in 
Btrieve, a family of data manage- 
ment applications from Pervasis 
Software 

.BUN-Bundled audio and MIDI 
files found in all Cakewalk pro- 
grams, which are computer-based 
recording applications 

.BUP— Backup file used in a wide 
variety of applications 



.C3D- Project file generated in 
Ulead System's COOL 3D pro- 
gram (versions 3.0 and 3.5) 

.C3V— EnVector module project 
file found in Ulead System's 
COOL 3D program (version 3.5) 

.CAC— Executable file used in 
dBASE IV, a database application 
from dBASE, Inc. 

.CAL— Schedule data file used with 
Microsoft Windows 3.x Calendar 



.CAL— Spreadsheet file used in 
SuperCalc, a scientific calculator 
program written in Java 

.CAP— Session capture file used 
with Telix for Windows, an on- 
line communications program 
from deltaComm Development 

.CAP— Caption file used in Corel 
VENTURA Publisher (8.0 and 
previous) 

.CAT— Intellicharge categorization 
file found in Intuit's Quicken fi- 
nancial software 

.CAT— Catalog file used in data- 
base applications from dBase, Inc. 

XBL (also .C0B)-COBAL source 
code file. COBAL stands for 
Common Business-Oriented 
Language, a programming lan- 
guage created in the 1950s and 
1960s for business applications 

.CBT— Computer Based Training 
file. CBT is a generic training pro- 
gram that uses computers to teach 
skills 

.CC— Custom class file found in 
Visual dBASE, a database pro- 
gram from dBASE, Inc. 

.CC— Source code file used with 
the C++ programming language 

.CCE— Data file created in 
Calendar Creator Plus from The 
Learning Company 

.CCH— Chart file created in Corel 
Chart 

.CDF— Three-dimensional object 
file (Cyberspace Description 
Format), created by Autodesk 

■CDM— Custom data module file 
found in Visual dBASE, a data- 
base program from dBASE, Inc. 

.CDT— Template file in 
CorelDRAW family of graphics 
applications 

■CDB— Database file used in 
CardScan, a family of business 
and scanning applications from 
Corex Technologies 

■CDR— Document created in the 
CorelDRAW family of graphics 
applications 

.CDX— Compressed drawing file 
created in the CorelDRAW family 
of graphics applications 

.CDX— Index file found in the 
Microsoft Visual FoxPro database 
program 

■CEL— Still picture file found in the 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 191 



^J File Extension Index 



Animator application, from 
AutoDesk 

.CFG— Configuration file found in 
various applications. A configura- 
tion file establishes the user's 
choices for the way a computer's 
hardware and software are set up, 
or configured 

XFL— Chart file created in 
CorelFLOW 

.CFM— File associated with 
ColdFusion 5.0, from 
Macromedia 

.CFM— Customer form file used in 
Visual dBASE, a database pro- 
gram from dBASE, Inc. 

.CGI— Common gateway interface 
script file. CGI script is a program 
written with a scripting language, 
such as Java, that dictates the way 
information is exchanged be- 
tween a server and an application 
using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer 
Protocol) on the Web 

XGM— Computer (sometimes 
compressed) graphics metafile 
created in many applications, in- 
cluding Microsoft Visio 2002. A 
.CGM is a standard vector 
graphics file 

■CHK— Temporary file in Corel 
WordPerfect for Windows 

■CHL— Configuration history log 
found in various applications. See 
.CFG 

.CHP— Chapter file found in Corel 
VENTURA Publisher (8.0 and 
previous) 

.CHT— File created in 
ChartViewer, from Golden Gate 
Software 

.CLP— Clipboard file, first used for 
the Clipboard application in 
Microsoft's Windows 3.0 

.CIL— Clip gallery download 
package file found in Microsoft 
Works Suite 2002 

.CIM— Saved game file in Sim City 
2000, a simulation game from 
Maxis/Electronic Arts 

XLP— Clip-art file used in Corel 
Quattro Pro 

XMD— Command file used in 
Microsoft Windows NT and 
IBM's OS/2 operating systems 

XMG— Saved game file in 
Chessmaster, from The Learning 
Company 



XIVIR— Movie file associated with 
Microsoft Windows Media Player 

XNV— Temporary file used in 
Corel WordPerfect for Windows 

XOB-see .CBL 

XOB-Object file used in 
trueSpace2, from Calgari 

XOL— Color palette file found in 
the Animator application, from 
AutoDesk 

XPF— Fax file used in The 
Complete Fax , from Black Ice 
Software 

XPT— Compressed archive created 
in the Apple Macintosh operating 
system 

XRC— Circular reference file used 
in Pro/ENGINEER, a 3D engi- 
neering program from PTC 

XRD— File associated with the 
Cardfile application introduced in 
Microsoft's Windows 3.0 

XRP— Custom report file created 
in Visual dBASE, a database pro- 
gram from dBASE, Inc. 

XSC— Script file in various Corel 
applications. Similar to a macro 
or batch file, a script file is a list of 
commands performed by the 
computer 

XTF— Catalog file developed by 
MGI to store thumbnail-size 
images 

XUE— Script file used in Web 
servers for Applause (CUESoft) 
applications 

XUE— Cue Cards data file found 
in Microsoft Works for Windows 
3.0 

XUR— Cursor file for Microsoft 
Windows operating systems 

XVS— Drawing file used in 
Canvas, an image-editing applica- 
tion from Deneba 

XWB-Bundle file found in 
Cakewalk's SONAR 1.3 

XWC— Chord library file found in 
Cakewalk's SONAR 1.3 

XWL— Layout file found in 
Cakewalk's SONAR 1.3 

XWP— Project file found in 
Cakewalk's SONAR 1.3 

XWS— Template file used in 
Claris Works (now AppleWorks) 

XWT— Template file found in 
Cakewalk's SONAR 1.3 



XWK— Data file found in Claris 
Works (now AppleWorks) 

XY— Three-dimensional object 
file found in the Echo scanning 
program, from Cyberware 



.DAO— Registry Backup file for 
Microsoft Windows operating 
systems 

.DAP— Data access page file found 
in Microsoft Access 2000 

.DAT— Merge data file used in 
Corel WordPerfect for Windows 
applications 

.DAT— Data file used in various 
applications 

.DB— Table database file found in 
Paradox 7 from Broderbund 

.DB BTREE-A database file sup- 
ported by Berkeley DB, a C-based 
interface for a number of database 
formats 

.DB HASH-A database file sup- 
ported by Berkeley DB, a C-based 
interface for a number of database 
formats 

.DBC— Database container file 
used in Visual FoxPro database 
applications from Microsoft 

.DBF— Tablespace file used in 
Oracle 8.1.x, a database program 
from Oracle 

.DBF— Database file found in data- 
base programs such as dBase, 
Clipper, and FoxPro 

.DBK— Database-backup file used 
in dBASE, an interactive database 
application from dBASE, Inc. 

.DBO— Compiled program file 
found in dBASE IV 

.DB RECNO-A database file sup- 
ported by Berkeley DB, a C-based 
interface for a number of database 
formats 

.DBT— Text memo file used in 
dBASE, an interactive database 
application from dBASE, Inc. 

.DBV-Memo field file used in 
FlexFile 2, a memo/data storage 
program 

.DBX— Table file used in Visual 
FoxPro database applications 
from Microsoft 

.DC— CAD (computer-aided de- 
sign) file used in DesignCAD, a 
high-end design application 

.DC5— Drawing file created in 



DataCAD 5, a business-to-busi- 
ness architecture application from 
DataCAD 

.DCS— Bit map graphics file associ- 
ated with Quark XPress 

.DCT— Database container file 
found in Visual FoxPro database 
applications from Microsoft 

.DCT— Dictionary database file 
found in various programs, in- 
cluding Clarion Database 
Developer 

.DCX— Database container file 
found in Visual FoxPro database 
applications from Microsoft 

.DD— Compressed archive file cre- 
ated by Norton DISKDOUBLER 
from Symantec 

.DDF— Data definition file found 
in Btrieve, a family of data man- 
agement applications from 
Pervasis Software 

.DEF— Data file used in SmartWare 
II, a word-processing application 
for DOS computers 

.DEF— Definition file used with the 
C++ programming language, 
from Borland 

■DEFI— Deinstallation script file 
used in Oracle 7, a database pro- 
gram from Oracle 

.DEM— Three-dimensional object 
file, created in the Digital 
Elevation Model format, from the 
U.S. Geological Survey 

.DEV (also .DRV)- 

Device driver file, found in var- 
ious programs. A driver enables a 
hardware peripheral (the device, 
such as a printer) to communi- 
cate with a computer 

.DEZ— Encrypted compressed file 
made with programs from the 
DES Encryption Software Group 

.DFD— Data flow diagram 
graphics file found in applica- 
tions from Prosa, an Italian free- 
ware developer 

.DHH— Single legal-document file 
containing the document's de- 
scription and associated help in- 
formation, found in Broderbund 
legal applications 

.DIC— Dictionary file found in 
such applications as Lotus Notes 
and Microsoft WinWord 

.DIB— Device-independent bit 
map file found in Microsoft 
Windows; can be created in 



192 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q File Extension Index 



various applications, including 
Microsoft Visio 2002 

.DIF— Database file used in 
VisiCalc, an early spreadsheet ap- 
plication from Software Arts 

.DIR— Dialing directory file found 
in the ProComm Plus terminal 
emulation applications from 
Symantec 

.DIR— Movie file created in 
MacroMind Director 4.X from 
MacroMind (Macromedia) 

.DIR— Native files used in Director 
Shockwave Studio 8.5, from 
Macromedia 

.DIS— Thesaurus file used in 
CorelDRAW graphic applications 

.DKB— Three-dimensional object 
file found in the DKB-Trace ray 
tracer 

■DLD— Data file used in Lotus 
1-2-3 

■DLG— Dialogue script file used in 
the C++ programming language 
from Borland 

■DLL— Export/import filter file 
used in CorelDRAW graphics 
applications 

.DLL— Dynamic-link library file. 
These files, commonly found in 
Windows and OS/2, are loaded 
into memory only when the pro- 
grams they are associated with are 
running 

.DLS-Setup file for the Norton 
DiskLock program 

.DMD— Data module file found in 
Visual dBASE, a database applica- 
tion from dBASE, Inc. 

.DNIF-Music module (MOD) file 
used with the X-Trakker digital 
music application 

.DMP— Dump file, which contains 
data from a computer's memory 
when a program is prematurely 
terminated 

.DOB— User document found in 
Microsoft Visual Basic, develop- 
ment software for business appli- 
cations 

.DOC— Document created in 
DisplayWrite, a family of word- 
processing applications from IBM 

.DOC— Document and text files 
created in word processing appli- 
cations, including Microsoft 
Word and Corel WordPerfect 

.DOCHTIWL-Word HTML 



(Hypertext Markup Language) 
file found in Microsoft Works 
Suite 2002 

.DOCMHTML-Word HTML 
(Hypertext Markup Language) 
file found in Microsoft Works 
Suite 2002 

.DOS— A text file generated in the 
disk operating system 

.DOT— Document template file 
used in Microsoft Word 

.DOT— Line-type definition file 
found in CorelDRAW graphics 
applications 

.DOTHTIML-Word HTML 
(Hypertext Markup Language) 
template file found in Microsoft 
Works Suite 2002 

.DOX— User document binary 
form file found in Microsoft 
Visual Basic, development soft- 
ware for business applications 

.DOX— Text file created in 
MultiMate for Windows 4.X 

.DPR— Project header file found in 
the C++ programming language 
from Borland 

.DPT— Publication file created in 
Publish-It! 

.DRS— Display resource file found 
in Microsoft WordPerfect for 
Windows applications 

.DRV— Device Driver file (see 
.DEV) 

.DRW— Drawing file created in 
Pro/ENGINEER, a 3D engi- 
neering program from PTC 

.DRW— Graphics file used in 
iGrafx Business and Micrografx 
Windows Draw 

.DSC— Discard file found in Oracle 
database applications 

.DSD— Database file used in 
DataShaper from Data Shaping 
Solutions 

.DSW— Desktop settings file found 
in the C++ programming lan- 
guage (version 4.5) from Borland 

.DSW— Workspace file used in 
Microsoft Developer Studio 

.DTP-Publication file in 
Microsoft's Publish It! application 

.DVC— Data file used in Lotus 
1-2-3 

.DVP-Digital Video Project file 
found in Ulead System's 
MediaStudio Pro (versions 5.2, 



6.0, and 6.5) 

.DVP— Device parameter file 
found in AutoCAD, general de- 
sign software from Autodesk 

.DW2— Drawing file used in 
DesignCAD for Windows 

.DWC— Compressed archive file 
created with the DWC compres- 
sion utility 

.DWD— Digitized file used in 
DiamondWare, a family of real- 
time, interactive audio applica- 
tions 

.DWF— Vector graphics file found 
in Autodesk applications 

.DWF— Internet file used with 
AutoCAD, general design soft- 
ware from Autodesk 

.DWG— AutoCAD drawing file; can 
be created in AutoCAD or 
Microsoft Visio 2002 

.DWT-File created by 
Dreamweaver 4.0, an HTML page 
production application from 
Macromedia 

.DWZ-DVD project file found in 
Ulead System's DVD 
MovieFactory application 



.EBI— Error checking object file 
used with Geoworks, a mobile 
Internet application 

.EBO— File used in Microsoft 
Reader 

.ED— Graphics file created in 
EasyDraw, a Japanese CAD appli- 
cation 

.EDB— Word Pro border graphics 
file used in Lotus SmartSuite 

.EDB— Data file created in Roots3, 
a genealogical (family tree) pro- 
gram, from Comsoft 

.EDE— EPS disk image found in 
applications from Ensoniq, maker 
of multimedia sound cards and 
electronic musical instruments 

.EDK— KT disk image found in ap- 
plications from Ensoniq, maker of 
multimedia sound cards and elec- 
tronic musical instruments 

.EDQ-SQ1, SQ2, and KS32 disk 
image found in applications from 
Ensoniq, maker of multimedia 
sound cards and electronic mu- 
sical instruments 

.EDS— SQ80 disk image found in 
applications from Ensoniq, maker 



of multimedia sound cards and 
electronic musical instruments 

.EFA— ASR file found in applica- 
tions from Ensoniq, maker of 
multimedia sound cards and elec- 
tronic musical instruments 

.EFE— EPS file found in applica- 
tions from Ensoniq, maker of 
multimedia sound cards and elec- 
tronic musical instruments 

.EFK— KT file found in applica- 
tions from Ensoniq, maker of 
multimedia sound cards and elec- 
tronic musical instruments 

.EGA— EGA display font used in 
Corel VENTURA Publisher appli- 
cations 

.EML— Email message file used 
with Microsoft Outlook Express 

■EMZ— Compressed enhanced 
metafile created in Microsoft 
Windows and Visio 2002 
applications 

■END— Arrow-Head definition 
table file used in CorelDRAW 
graphics applications 

■ENG— EnerGraphics Chart 
graphics file 

.EPS— Encapsulated PostScript 
graphics file, found in graphics 
programs such as CorelDRAW 
and VENTURA Publisher, Aldus 
PhotoStyler, and Adobe 
Illustrator 

■EPS2— Encapsulated PostScript 
graphics file found in Adobe Level 
II applications 

.EPSF— Encapsulated PostScript 
graphics file, found in graphics 
programs such as CorelDRAW 
and VENTURA Publisher, 
PhotoStyler, and Adobe 
Illustrator 

.EPSI— Encapsulated PostScript 
Interchange file used in Adobe 
applications 

.EXE— Executable file run with ap- 
plications on DOS computers. An 
executable file is a format that a 
computer can execute without the 
assistance of the user 

.EXP-Saved chat file on the ICQ 
network, an online instant mes- 
saging program 

.EZP— Compressed file created by 
the Edify Electronic Workforce 
Backup Utility compression 
program 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 193 



^J File Extension Index 



.FAS— Basic module file used in 
3D Fassade Plus 

.FAV— Navigation-bar file used in 
the Microsoft Outlook email ap- 
plication 

.FBC— Compressed backup file 
used with FamilyTree Maker, 
from The Learning Company 

■FBK— Backup file in Navision 
Financials, a business-manage- 
ment application from Navision 
Software 

.FBK— Backup file used with 
FamilyTree Maker, from The 
Learning Company 

.FCD-File found in FastCAD, 
from Evolution Computing 

.FIF— Fractal image graphics 
format file used in various appli- 
cations 

.FIX— A generic patch, or fix, file 
added to a program to correct a 
flaw 

.FKY— Macro file found in Visual 
FoxPro database applications 
from Microsoft 

.FLA— File used in Flash 5.0, an 
animated Web-content developer 
application from Macromedia 

.FLB— Format library file found in 
Papyrus, a bibliography-making 
application from Research 
Software Design 

.FLL— Distributable dynamic link 
library file used in Visual FoxPro 
database applications from 
Microsoft 

.FLM— File roll file found in 
AutoCAD, general design soft- 
ware from Autodesk 

.FLP— User-information (personal 
data) file created in Family 
Lawyer, from Broderbund 

.FLT— Filter file used in various 
applications, including those 
from Corel and Micrografx 

.FLT— Graphics filter support file 
used in Aymetrix ToolBook for 
Microsoft Windows, a content- 
authoring application from 
Click21earn 

.FLX— Compiled binary file found 
in DataFlex, a Data Access Corp. 
program for developing database 
applications 

.FM— File used in Adobe 



FrameMaker (1995 release) 

.FM1— Spreadsheet file used in 
Lotus 1-2-3, Version 2.X 

.FM3— Spreadsheet file used in 
Lotus 1-2-3, Version 2.X 

.FMK-Make file used in FOR- 
TRAN PowerStation, a line of 
compiler applications from 
Microsoft 

.FMO— Compile format file used in 
dBASE IV, a database application 
from dBASE, Inc. 

.FMT— Print file found in 
Microsoft Schedule+, a sched- 
uling application introduced with 
Windows 95 

.FNK-Module file in 
FunkTracker, a sound-file editor 
application used with the Linux 
operating system 

.F01 —Font file found in the 
Borland Turbo C programming 
language 

.F02— Font file found in Borland 
Turbo C programming language 

.FON— Bit-mapped font file used 
in Microsoft Windows operating 
systems 

.FON— Call log file used in the 
ProComm Plus terminal emula- 
tion applications from Symantec 

.FON— Dialing directory file found 
in Telix, an online communica- 
tions program from deltaComm 
Development 

.FPX— FlashPix format for storing 
digital images and photographs, 
developed by Eastman Kodak in 
1996 

.FRG— Uncompiled report file 
used in dBASE IV, a database ap- 
plication from dBASE, Inc. 

.FSM— Wave sample file used in 
Farandole Composer 

.FSX— Data file used in the Lotus 
1-2-3 spreadsheet applications 

.FSX— Data file used in the Lotus 
1-2-3 spreadsheet program 

.FTP— File Transfer Protocol file. 
FTP is a method of sending and 
receiving files between computers, 
especially on the Internet 

.FTW— Document file created by 
FamilyTree Maker, from The 
Learning Company 

.FW— Database file found in 
Framework, from Selections & 
Functions 



.FW2— Database file found in 
Framework II, from Selections & 
Functions 

.FW3— Database file found in 
Framework III, from Selections & 
Functions 

.FW4— Database file found in 
Framework IV, from Selections & 
Functions 

.FWB— Backup data file used in 
FileWrangler, a file-management 
application from CursorArts 

.FWS— Data file associated with 
file-splitting configuration in 
FileWrangler, a file-management 
application from CursorArts 

.FX— Graphic effects file used in 
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000 

.FXP— Compiled source code file 
used in Microsoft Visual FoxPro 
database applications 



.GAM— Fax document file used in 
GammaFax applications from 
SpaceTec 

■GAU— Aircraft gauge files found in 
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 

■GC1 —LISP source code file found 
in Golden Common LISP 1.1, 
training and development soft- 
ware from Gold Hill (see .L for 
more information on LISP) 

■GC3— LISP source code file found 
in Golden Common LISP 1.3, 
training and development soft- 
ware from Gold Hill 

.GEN— Compiled template file 
found in dBASE Application 
Generator 

.GEN— Generated text file used in 
Corel VENTURA Publisher 

■GDS— A three-dimensional object 
file used in CAD applications 
from McDonnell-Douglas 

.GFB-GIFBlast compressed GIF 
image file, a freeware program for 
Macintosh computers 

.GFI— Graphics link presentation 
file in Genigraphics applications, 
which are bundled with Microsoft 
PowerPoint presentation software 

.GFO— A three-dimensional object 
file, created by Silicon Graphics, 
found in the IRIS Performer data- 
base application 

.GFT— Font file found in NeoPaint 
for Windows, an image-editing 
program from NeoSoft 



.GFX— Graphics link presentation 
file used in Genigraphics applica- 
tions, which are bundled with 
Microsoft PowerPoint presenta- 
tion software 

.GIB— Chart file found in Graph- 
in-the-Box, from Echoscan 

.GID— Index file used in Microsoft 
Windows Help tools 

.GID— Global index file used in 
Microsoft Windows 95 operating 
system 

.GIF— Graphics Interchange 
Format file. Used first by 
CompuServe, GIF is a compres- 
sion format that compresses and 
transfers graphic images into dig- 
ital information. Files with the 
.GIF extension are bit-mapped 
(see .BMP) 

.GIM— Graphics link presentation 
file used in Genigraphics applica- 
tions, which are bundled with 
Microsoft PowerPoint presenta- 
tion software 

.GIW— Graph-in-the Box for 
Microsoft Windows presentation 
file 

■GIX— Graphics link presentation 
file used in Genigraphics applica- 
tions, which are bundled with 
Microsoft PowerPoint presenta- 
tion software 

■GKH— EPS family disk image file 
found in applications from 
Ensoniq, maker of multimedia 
sound cards and electronic mu- 
sical instruments 

.GLY— Glossary file found in 
Microsoft WinWord 

.GMF— CGM graphics file used in 
Applause data-accessing applica- 
tions from CUESoft.com 

■GNA— Graphics link presentation 
file used in Genigraphics applica- 
tions, which are bundled with 
Microsoft PowerPoint presenta- 
tion software 

■GNX— Graphics link presentation 
file used in Genigraphics applica- 
tions, which are bundled with 
Microsoft PowerPoint presenta- 
tion software 

.GPH— Graph file used in Lotus 
1-2-3 

■GR2— Screen driver file used in 
Microsoft Windows 3.X 

■GRA— Graph chart file created in 
Microsoft Works Suite 2002 



194 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q File Extension Index 



■GRA— Data file used in SigmaPlot, 
a graphing application from SPSS 
Science 

.GRF— Graph file found in 
Charisma Graph Plus, from 
Micrografx 

.GSP— File associated with The 
Geometer's Sketchpad, a mathe- 
matics application from Key 
Curriculum Press 

.GZ— Compressed file generated 
by GZIP, a freeware compression 
application 

■GWX— Graphics link presentation 
file used in Genigraphics applica- 
tions, which are bundled with 
Microsoft PowerPoint presenta- 
tion software 

■GWZ— Graphics link presentation 
file used in Genigraphics applica- 
tions, which are bundled with 
Microsoft PowerPoint presenta- 
tion software 



.H++— Header file created in the 
Borland C++ programming 
language 

.H— Program header file used with 
the C programming language 

.HAL— Hyper Access Lite data file, 
developed for the OS/2 operating 
system 

.HAM— Novel Netware loadable 
module file 

■HBK —Handbook file found in 
Mathcad, a technical calculation 
program from Math Soft 
Engineering and Education 

■HDA— Document file used in Hot 
Docs, automation software from 
Capsoft Development 

.HDL— Alternate download listing 
file found in ProComm Plus ter- 
minal emulation applications 
from Symantec 

■HDR— Message header text file 
used in ProComm Plus terminal 
emulation applications from 
Symantec 

■HDX— Help index file found in 
AutoCAD, general design soft- 
ware from Autodesk 

.HEL— Saved game file in 
Microsoft Hellbender 

.HFX— Voice data file associated 
with US Robotics Rapid Comm 
modems 

■HGL— Hewlett-Packard Graphics 



Language drawing file 

.HH— Header file associated with 
the Borland C++ programming 
language 

.HHP— Help information file for 
remote users found in ProComm 
Plus terminal emulation applica- 
tions from Symantec 

.HLP— Help file, found in a variety 
of applications 

.HMM— Mail read option menu 
file in ProComm Plus terminal 
emulation applications from 
Symantec 

.HPG-HPGL plotter vector 
graphics file used in AutoCAD, 
general design software from 
Autodesk 

.HPK— Compressed archive file 
generated by HPACK, a multi- 
system archive application 

.HPM— Privileged members menu 
file found in ProComm Plus ter- 
minal emulation applications 
from Symantec 

.HPP— Program header file created 
in the Borland C++ programming 
language 

.HPP— Header file created in the 
Zortech C++ programming 
language 

.HQX— Compressed BinHex (a 
Macintosh encoding format) file 

■HRM— Limited users menu file 
found in ProComm Plus terminal 
emulation applications from 
Symantec 

.HSI— Graphics file found in appli- 
cations from Handmade 
Software, Inc., including Image 
Alchemy 

.HTML (also .HTM)-Hypertext 
Markup Language file. HTML is 
the language used to design con- 
tent for the World Wide Web. 
Thus, .HTML files are mostly as- 
sociated with Web pages 

.HXM— Protocol selection menu 
found in ProComm Plus terminal 
emulation applications from 
Symantec 

.HXX— Header file created in the 
Borland C++ programming 
language 

.HYC— Hyphenation file used in 
Corel WordPerfect for Windows 
applications 

.HYD— Hyphenation Dictionary 



file used in Corel WordPerfect for 
Windows applications 

.HYP— Hypertext file (various ap- 
plications), in which elements are 
connected to one another via ac- 
tive links 



.1— Intermediate file created in the 
Borland C++ programming 
language 

.IAN— Text file found in 
Groundworks COOL BizTeam, a 
data modeling tool from Sterling 
Software 

.ICA— Graphics file based on the 
IOCA(Image Object Content 
Architecture) standard 

.ICC— Printer image file used in 
Kodak applications 

.ICL— Icon library file found in 
various applications 

.ICO— Icon file used in Microsoft 
Windows 3.x operating system 

.ICS— Scene file used in IronClad, 
security software for networks 

.ICS— Calendar file used in 
Microsoft Outlook email 
program 

.IDE— Project file created in the 
Borland C++ programming lan- 
guage (version 4.5) 

.IDF— Instrument Drivers file, 
based on the Musical Instrument 
Digital Interface protocol, used in 
Microsoft Windows operating 
systems' configuration files 

.IDIF— Identification file associated 
with the address book in Netscape 
Mail 

.IDW— Vector graphics file used in 
IntelliDraw 

.IDX— Index file found in various 
applications, including Microsoft 
FoxPro and Clip Gallery 

.IFD— Form file found in data-cap- 
ture products from JetForm (now 
Accelio) 

.IFF— Three-dimensional object 
file used with LightWave, an ani- 
mation program 

.IFO— Data file used in ImageForge 
Pro, an image-editing tool devel- 
oped by CursorArts Company for 
Microsoft Windows 95 

.IFP— Script file used in 
KnowledgeMan, a database 
application 



.IFS— Compressed fractal image cre- 
ated by Yuvpak, a compression/ 
decompression application 

.IFS— Create-executable library file 
found in ImageForge (freeware) 
and ImageForge Pro, image cre- 
ating and editing applications 
from CursorArts 

.IFS-System file found in IBM's 
OS/2 operating system 

■IGES (also .IGS)-File based on 
the Initial Graphics Exchange 
Specification standard 

■IGX— File associated with iGrafx 
Professional, iGrafx Flowcharter, 
iGrafx Process, and iGrafx Process 
for Six Sigma, all from Micrografx 

.IIF— Interchange file found in 
QuickBooks for Windows, from 
Intuit 

■IL8— File created in Adobe 
Illustrator, version 8 

■ILB— Data file created by Scream 
Tracker, a digital music format 

.IM— Three-dimensional object file 
created in the IRIS Performer 
program, from Silicon Graphics 

■IM8— Raster graphics file from 
Sun Microsystems 

.IMF— Letter file created in 
IncrediMail, a free, download- 
able email program from 
IncrediMail 

.IMG— Main image output file cre- 
ated by Vivid 2.0, an image ma- 
nipulation utility written by 
Stephen B. Coy 

.INI— Initialization file, found in 
various applications. This type of 
file is run when computers boot 
up or when programs are 
launched 

.INK— Pantone reference fills file 
found in CorelDRAW 

.INL— Inline function file created 
in the Microsoft Visual C++ pro- 
gramming language 

.INP— Source code form file found 
in early versions of the Oracle 
database program 

.INS— Instrument file found in ap- 
plications from Ensoniq, maker of 
multimedia sound cards and elec- 
tronic musical instruments 

.INS— Install script file used with 
InstaUShield 

.INS— Data file found in Corel 
WordPerfect for Windows 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 195 



^J File Extension Index 



.IRTP— Three-dimensional object 
file (Interactive Real-Time PHIGS 
format) used in the TopGen data- 
base modeling application, from 
AAI/Graphicon 

■ISD— Spell checker dictionary file 
found in RapidFile, from Borland 

.ISU— Uninstall script file used in 
InstallShield for Windows 

.IT— Music module file associated 
with the Impulse Tracker digital 
music format 

.ITI— Instrument file associated 
with the Impulse Tracker digital 
music format 

.ITS— Sample file associated with 
the Impulse Tracker digital music 
format 

.IV— Three-dimensional object file 
created in the IRIS Inventor ap- 
plication, from Silicon Graphics 

.IW— Screensaver file found in 
IdleWild, part of the Microsoft 
Entertainment Pack (versions 1 
through 3) 

.IWA-Text file used in IBM 
Writing Assistant application 

.IXA-VCD or SVCD disc image 
file used in Ulead System's DVD 
MovieFactory application 



.JAR— JavaARchive compressed 
file for applets and other files (see 
JAV for more information) 

.JAS/JASC-Graphics format file 
used in various Jasc Software 
applications 

JAV/JAVA-Source code file for 
JAVA, a programming language 
created by Sun Micro- 
systems that writes programs 
geared for downloading files 
from the Web. An applet is a 
small JAVA application 

.JBD-Data file used in 
SigmaScan, a family of image 
analysis and measurement appli- 
cations from SPSS 

.JBIG— Document filed based on 
the Joint Bilevel Image Group 
standard 

■JBX— Project file used in Project 
Scheduler 4.0, a business applica- 
tion from EnterpriseSoft 

JFF-see JPEG 

.JIF-see JPEG 

.JFIF-see JPEG 



■JNB— Workbook file found in 
Sigma Plot (version 5.0), a 
technical graphing program from 
SPSS 

.JOB— Vector graphics file in 
Quest Vision created by the con- 
version of an IMG file 

.JOR— Journal file used in SQL 
Server, a line of database and 
analysis applications from 
Microsoft 

JPE-see JPEG 

.JPEG— Joint Photographic 
Experts Group, a compression 
format for color bit-mapped im- 
ages named after the committee 
that set the compression standard. 
Files stored in this format may 
take the JPEG extension or 
others, including JFF, JIF, JFIF, 
JPE, JPG, and JTF, and are used 
with numerous applications, such 
as QuickTime Picture 

JPG-see JPEG 

.JS— JavaScript source code file. 
Developed by Netscape, 
JavaScript is a language supported 
by Netscape Navigator Web 
browsers 

.JSL— File used in Paint Shop Pro, 
a graphics design and photo- 
editing application from Jasc 
Software 

■JSP— File used in JRun Studio, a 
Java application developer from 
Macromedia 

.JTF— A JPEG Tagged Interchange 
Format image file 

.JTF— A bit map file based on the 
JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert 
Group) compression standard for 
color images 

.JTF— Fax document file used with 
the Hayes JT Fax modem 

.JTK— Java toolkit file created by 
Sun Microsystems 

.JW— Text document created in 
JustWrite, a word-processing ap- 
plication from Symantec 

.JWL— Library file found in 
JustWrite, a word-processing ap- 
plication from Symantec 

■JZZ— File used in Jazz, a spread- 
sheet application from Lotus 



.KAR-Karaoke format MIDI 
(Musical Instrument Digital 
Interface) music file 



.KB— Keyboard script file created 
in the Borland C++ programming 
language (version 4.5) 

.KB— Knowledge Pro program 
source code file 

.KBD— Keyboard-mapping script 
file used in various applications, 
including the ProComm Plus ter- 
minal emulation applications 
from Symantec 

■KBM— Keyboard-mapping script 
file used in Reflection, a Web- 
based terminal emulation pro- 
gram from WRQ 

■KCL— LISP source code file found 
in Kyoto Common LISP, an im- 
plementation of the LISP (list 
processing) programming lan- 
guage developed in the 1950s for 
use in artificial intelligence re- 
search 

.KDC— Kodak Digital Camera 
graphics file 

.KEX-Macro file used in KEDIT, 
a text editor for Windows from 
Mansfield Software 

.KEY— Icon toolbar file found in 
DataCAD, a business-to-business 
architecture application from 
DataCAD LLC 

.KEY— Data file used in Forecast 
Pro, a sales forecasting program 
from Business Forecast Systems 

.KEY— Generic security file, such 
as a software registration number 

.KFX— Image file used in various 
applications from Kofax Image 
Products 

■KIZ— Kodak Digital Science 
Picture Postcard file 

.KMP-KeyMap file used with the 
Trinity music workstation from 
Korg 

.KPP— Toolpad file found in 
SmartPad, from Seiko 

.KQP— Camera file native to 
Konica applications 

.KRZ— Downloadable sample file 
used with Kurzweil Music 
Systems synthesizers, digital pi- 
anos, and other instruments 

.KSF— Sample file used with the 
Trinity music workstation from 
Korg 



.L— Source code file used in LEX 
(lexical analyzer generator), a 
compiler for programming 



languages. A compiler interprets a 
high-end programming language 
into a basic language computers 
understand 

.LAN— Novell Network adapter 
driver file 

■LBI— Library file used in 
Dreamweaver, an HTML editor 
application from Macromedia 

.LBL-Label file used in dBASE IV, 
an interactive database applica- 
tion from dBASE, Inc. 

■LBL— Label file found in Clipper 
5, an application development 
system from Computer Associates 

.LBL— Label file used in dBFast, an 
Xbase-compatible development 
system for Microsoft Windows 
from Computer Associates 

■LBM— Labels file found in 
Microsoft Visual FoxPro 

■LBO— Compiled label file used in 
dBASE IV, an interactive database 
application from dBASE, Inc. 

■LBR— Display driver file found 
in the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet 
program 

.LBT— Label description file used 
in Microsoft Visual FoxPro 

■LBX— Label file created in the 
Microsoft FoxPro database 
program 

■LCK— Database file found in 
Adobe Pagemaker 

■LCN— Dictionary file used in 
Corel WordPerfect for Windows 
applications 

■LCN— Lection document found in 
Microsoft WordPerfect for 
Windows 

■LCS— Data history file used in 
ACT! for Lotus Notes from 
Symantec 

■LEX— Dictionary/lexicon file 
found in various applications, in- 
cluding Microsoft Word 

■LGO— Startup logo file used in 
Microsoft Windows applications, 
beginning with version 3.X 

■LIB— Library file found in various 
applications 

■LIN— Line type file used in 
DataCAD, a business-to-business 
architecture application from 
DataCAD LLC 

■LIN— Interactive music se- 
quencing data file introduced in 
Electronic Arts programs 



196 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q File Extension Index 



■LKO— Linked object file found in 
Microsoft Outlook Express 

■LL3— Document file created in 
LapLink (version 3.0), a file 
transfer and synchronization 
applications from LapLink 

■LLX— Exchange agent file used in 
LapLink, a file transfer and syn- 
chronization application from 
LapLink 

■LNK— A link or shortcut file used 
in Microsoft Windows operating 
systems 

.LOG— Log file, found in many 
applications, such as Microsoft 
Outlook, which keeps track of 
a computer's or program's 
activities 

.LRF— Linker response file created 
in the Microsoft C and C++ pro- 
gramming languages 

■LRS— Language resource file, 
used in Corel WordPerfect for 
Windows applications 

■LSL— Saved library file used in the 
Corel Paradox family of relational 
database applications 

.LSL— Saved library file used in 
Corel PARADOX applications 

.LYT— Log file used with 
TurboTax, from Intuit 

■LZW— Compressed file created by 
the Lempel Ziv Welch data com- 
pression application from Unisys 



.M— Program file found in 
MATLAB, a technical computing 
application from The MathWorks 

.M— Standard package file used in 
Mathematica, a technical com- 
puting program from Wolfram 
Research 

.Ml V— Video file based on the 
MPEG standard. Moving Pictures 
Experts Group is a committee 
that sets the compression stan- 
dard for digital audio and video 
files 

■M3D— Three-dimensional anima- 
tion file used in Corel MOTION, 
an application introduced in 
CorelDRAW 6 

.MAC— A bit-mapped image gen- 
erated by MacPaint, a graphics 
application from Macintosh 

.MAC— A macro file used in var- 
ious applications. A macro is a 
single keyboard stroke that 



executes a series of keyboard 
strokes and/or mouse actions 

.MAD-Module file found in the 
Microsoft Access database man- 
agement program 

.MAF— Form file used in Microsoft 
Access, a database management 
application 

.MAGIC— Configuration file for 
Magic Mail Monitor, an email 
program 

.MAK— Project file used in 
Microsoft Visual Basic and with 
the Microsoft C++ programming 
language 

.MAX— 3D scene file created with 
Kinetix 3D Studio MAX 

.MAX— Layout file used in the 
Oread line of products from 
Cadence Design Systems 

.MAX— Scanned image file used 
with Paperport, a scanner appli- 
cation from Visioneer 

■MAZ— Three-dimensional object 
file found in dVice, from Division, 
Ltd. 

.MB— Memo-field values file 
found in the Corel Paradox family 
of relational database applications 

.MBF— Money backup file found 
in Microsoft Works Suite 2002 

.MBK— Saved email file created in 
Microsoft Outlook 

.MCC— Configuration file used 
with Mathcad, a technical calcula- 
tion application 

.MCD— Document file used with 
Mathcad, a technical calculation 
application 

.MCF— Font file found in 
Mathcad, a technical calculation 
program from Math Soft 
Engineering and Education 

.MCP— Printer driver file used in 
Mathcad, a technical calculation 
program from Math Soft 
Engineering and Education 

■MCR— Keyboard macro file found 
in DataCAD, a business-to-busi- 
ness architecture application from 
DataCAD 

.MCW-MacWrite II text docu- 
ment 

.MDA- Add-in file used in the 
Microsoft Access database man- 
agement program 

■MDB— The common database file 
for Microsoft Access, a database 



management application 

■MDE— File associated with the 
Microsoft Access database man- 
agement program 

■MDL— Music module file used 
with Digital Trakker 

.MDL— Model file found in Quake, 
a series of 3D action games from 
id Software 

.MDL— Aircraft model file used in 
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 

.MDL— Three-dimensional model 
file used in TurboCAD, a line of 
computer-aided design products 
from IMSI 

.MDL— Three-dimensional model 
file used in the Moray modeling 
application 

■MDN— Database template found 
in the Microsoft Access database 
management program 

.MDT— Data file used in the 
Microsoft Access database man- 
agement program 

■MOW— Workgroup file used in 
the Microsoft Access database 
management program 

■MDX— Multiple index file found 
in dBASE IV, a database applica- 
tion from dBASE, Inc. 

■MDZ— Wizard template found in 
the Microsoft Access database 
management program 

.ME— Text document file — such as 
"READ.ME"— in ASCII format 
(see ASC) 

.MED— Music module file used 
with OctaMED Music Editor 

.MEDIT— Three-dimensional ob- 
ject file found in the Medit data- 
base modeling program, from 
Medit Productions 

.MEM— Memory variable save file 
in dBASE IV, a database applica- 
tion from dBASE, Inc. 

.MEM— Memory variable save file 
used in the Microsoft FoxPro 
database program 

■MES— Message file found in var- 
ious applications 

.MGF— Three-dimensional object 
file (Materials and Geometry 
Format) created by Greg Ward 

.MHP— Picture It! multimedia 
format file found in Microsoft 
Works Suite 2002 

.MHT— This eb archive file found 



in the Microsoft Office 2002 suite 

■MHTL— Web archive file found in 
the Microsoft Office 2002 suite 

.MIC— File associated with 
Microsoft Image Composer 

.MID— A music file created with 
the Musical Instrument Digital 
Interface protocol. MIDI is the 
standard format for transforming 
music sounds into data (and vice 
versa). Used with computers and 
music synthesizers 

■MIM (see also .MME)-A multi- 
part file created in the MIME 
(Multipurpose Internet Mail 
Extensions) format. MIME is the 
standard format for attaching 
nontext files, such as spread- 
sheets, to email messages. An at- 
tachment with the .MIM 
extension can be opened with a 
decompression program such as 
WinZip 

.MIX— Picture file generated by 
Microsoft PhotoDraw 2000 

.MIX-Microsoft Picture It! 
Publishing picture file 

■MND— Menu source file used with 
the AutoCAD Menu Compiler 
from Autodesk 

.MNG-Map file found in AAA 
Map'n'Go, from DeLorme 
Mapping 

.MNT— Menu file found in 
the Microsoft FoxPro database 
program 

■MNU— Menu file found in Visual 
dBASE, a database program from 
dBASE, Inc. 

■MNX— Menu file found in the 
Microsoft FoxPro database 
program 

.MNX— Compiled menu file cre- 
ated in AutoCAD, a general de- 
sign application from Autodesk 

.MNY— Money document file 
found in Microsoft Works Suite 
2002 

.MOV— Movie file format associ- 
ated with Apple's QuickTime for 
Microsoft Windows 

.MOV— Movie file found created in 
PowerPoint (Microsoft Office 
2001) 

.MOVIE— A video file created 
with QuickTime, a Macintosh 
video application 

.MP2-MPEG Audio Layer 2 file 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 197 



^J File Extension Index 



MPEG stands for Moving Pictures 
Experts Group, a committee that 
sets the compression standard for 
digital audio and video files 

.MP3-MPEG Audio Layer 3 file. 
MPEG stands for Moving Pictures 
Experts Group, a committee that 
sets the compression standard for 
digital audio and video files 

.MPC— Calendar file created in 
Microsoft Project, a project man- 
agement application program in 
Office 2000 

.MPG— Animation file using the 
standard set by the Moving 
Pictures Experts Group, a com- 
mittee that sets the compression 
standard for digital audio and 
video files 

.MPP— Project file created in 
Microsoft Project, a project-man- 
agement application program in 
Office 2000 

■MPR — Compiled menus file 
found in the Microsoft FoxPro 
database programs 

■MPS — Pocket Streets map file 
found in Microsoft Works Suite 
2002 

■MPV — View file used in 
Microsoft Project, a project-man- 
agement application program in 
Office 2000 

.MPV— A video file based on the 
MPEG digital video compression 
standard 

.MPX— Compiled menu program 
file created in the Microsoft 
FoxPro database applications 

■MPX — Exchange file used with 
Microsoft Project, a project-man- 
agement application program in 
Office 2000 

■Ml! — Menu file found in Quattro 
Pro, from Corel 

■MULAW— Generic audio file used 
with various audio applications 

■MUS— Music audio data file 
found in applications from 
Electronic Arts 

.MWP— Smartmaster file used with 
Lotus WordPro 97 

.MXT— Data file created with 
the Microsoft C programming 
language 

.MYS— Saved game file for Myst, 
from Redorb Entertainment/ 
Broderbund 



.NB— Text file used in Nota Bene, 
an academic research and writing 
application from Nota Bene 
Associates 

.NDX-Index file used with dBASE 
database applications (versions II, 
HI, and IV), from dBASE, Inc. 

.NDX— Index file found in 
CINDEX, an index preparation 
program from Indexing Research 

■NET — Netlist output file found in 
Oread Schematic Capture, from 
Cadence Design Systems 

.NET— Configuration file used with 
various networks and servers. It 
contains commands dictating the 
way a network system is set up 

■NFF— Three-dimensional object 
file found in the MTV ray tracer 
application 

■NLB— Data file used in Oracle 7, a 
database program from Oracle 

■NLX— Form file found in 
FormWorx 3.0 

■NS2— A database file found in 
Lotus Notes 2. Subsequently 
numbered files, such as .NS3, are 
database files in the next version 
of the program 

.NSF— Database file created in 
Lotus Notes 

.NT— Startup file associated with 
Microsoft Windows NT operating 
system 

.NTF— Database template file used 
in Lotus Notes applications 



.0— Object file used in the Unix 
operating system 

.OAB-Address Book file used 
with Microsoft's Outlook email 
application 

■0AZ— Fax file found in NetFax 
Manager, from OAZ 
Communications 

■0BD— Binder template file found 
in the Microsoft Office suite of 
applications 

■0BR— Object browser data file 
used with the Borland C++ pro- 
gramming language 

.OFT— Template file used in 
Microsoft's Outlook email 
application 

.0FN— FileNew documents found 



in the Microsoft Office suite 

.0LB-Object library file devel- 
oped by Microsoft 

.OLE— OLE (object linking and 
embedding) object file. Object 
linking and embedding is a 
process by which information is 
shared between different applica- 
tions within an operating system 

.ORG— Calendar file used in Lotus 
Organizer, a personal information 
manager application 

■0R2— Calendar file used in Lotus 
Organizer 2, a personal informa- 
tion manager application 



.P— Source code used with Pascal, 
a high-level programming lan- 
guage developed by Niklaus 
Wirthin 1971 

.PA1-Worktable file found in 
PageAhead Software applications 

.PAB-Personal Address Book file 
used in Microsoft's Outlook email 
program 

.PAK— Compressed archive file 

.PCE— Name map file used in 
Eudora Mailbox family of email 
applications 

.PCF— Profiler command file used 
in Microsoft Source Profiler, a 
component of Visual C++ 5.0 
and 6.0 

.PCH— Precompiled header file 
used in the Microsoft C and C++ 
programming languages 

.PDD— Graphics file used with 
Paint Shop Pro, from Jasc 
Software, and Adobe 
PhotoDeluxe 

.PDD— Image file used in Adobe 
PhotoDeluxe 

.PDF (see also .ABF)-File type of 
output from Adobe Acrobat soft- 
ware (1993 release), other Adobe 
applications, and Microsoft Office 
applications (if the user has full 
Acrobat installed) 

.PEB— Program Editor bottom 
overflow file used with Corel's 
WordPerfect for Windows library 

.PED— Program Editor delete save 
file used with Corel's 
WordPerfect for Windows library 

.PEM— Program Editor macro file 
used with Corel's WordPerfect for 
Windows library 



.PEQ— Program Editor pint queue 
file used with Corel's 
WordPerfect for Windows library 

.PER— Program Editor resident 
area file used with Corel's 
WordPerfect for Windows library 

.PES— Program Editor workspace 
file used with Corel's 
WordPerfect for Windows library 

.PFK— Programmable function 
keys file in XTree and XTree 
Gold, disk management programs 
by Central Point Software 

.PH— Phrase table file created in 
the Microsoft C and C++ pro- 
gramming language 

.PHD-PolyHedra Database three- 
dimensional object file found in 
Kaleido and IRIS Inventor, from 
Silicon Graphics 

.PHN-Phone list file used with 
UltraFax, and Internet-based 
faxing service from UltraNet 

.PIC— 3D image file found in 
Softimage, a visual content cre- 
ation application from Softimage 

.PIC— Bit-mapped graphic file 
found in PC Paint 

.PIC— Picture file used with Lotus 
applications 

.PIC / .PICT-Graphics file based 
on the PICT graphics format de- 
veloped by Apple in 1984; used 
with graphics applications de- 
signed for Macintosh computers 

.PIF— Program information file, 
used in various applications 

.PIF— Compressed archive file 
used in Macintosh applications 

.PIN— Data file used in the Epic 
Pinball game from Epic 
MegaGames 

.PJ— Project file used in Super 
Project, a family of project man- 
agement applications for 
eBusinesses, from Computer 
Associates 

.PJX— Project file used in 
Microsoft's Visual FoxPro data- 
base application 

.PJT— Memo file found in the 
Microsoft Visual FoxPro database 
program 

.PJT— Project file used in the 
Microsoft Visual FoxPro database 
program 

.PL1— First Floor Plan file created 
in 3D Home Architect (v. 4.0), 



198 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q File Extension Index 



from Broderbund 

.PL2— Second Floor Plan file cre- 
ated in 3D Home Architect (v. 
4.0), from Broderbund 

.PL3— Third Floor Plan file created 
in 3D Home Architect (v. 4.0), 
from Broderbund 

.PL— Source code file used in Perl, 
a high-level programming lan- 
guage created by Larry Wall 

.PL— Source code file used in 
Prolog, a logic programming 
language 

.PLB— Library file used in 
Microsoft's Visual FoxPro data- 
base application 

.PLC-Add-in file used in the 
Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program 

.PLI— Data description file used in 
Oracle 7.0, a database program 
from Oracle 

.PLL— Pre-linked library file found 
in the Clipper 5, an application 
development system from 
Computer Associates 

.PLM— Module (music) file used 
with DisorderTracker2 

.PLY— Three-dimensional object 
file created by ZipPack, from 
Silicon Graphics 

.PM3— Document file found in 
Adobe PageMaker 3.0 

.PM4— Document file found in 
Adobe PageMaker 4.0 

.PM5— Document file found in 
Adobe PageMaker 5. 

.PM6— Document file found in 
Adobe PageMaker 6.0 

.PM— Presentation Manager 
graphics file used in IBM's OS/2 
operating system 

.PMD— File used in Adobe 
PageMaker applications 

.PNG— File used in Fireworks 4.0, a 
Web graphics design application 
from Macromedia 

.PNG— Picture It! main file format 
found in Microsoft Works Suite 
2002 

.PNG-A file created in the 
Portable Network Graphics 
format 

.PNG— Browser catalog file used 
with Paint Shop Pro, a graphics 
design and photo-editing applica- 
tion from Jasc Software 

.PNT— Pen Table plotting file used 



in Pro/ENGINEER, a 3D engi- 
neering program from PTC 

.PNT— Graphics file used in 
MacPaint 

.POP— Pop-up menu file used in 
the dBase database program 

.P0G— File found in the Descent 
game (version 2) from Descent 
Network Team 

.POL— A native three-dimensional 
data file format found in applica- 
tions from InnovMetric Software 

.POP— Pop-up file used in Visual 
dBASE, a database application 
from dBASE, Inc. 

.POP— Message index file found in 
PopMail, an email application 
from PopMail.com 

.POT— Template file used with 
Microsoft's PowerPoint presenta- 
tion application 

.P0V— Three-dimensional scene 
description language file used in 
POV-Ray (Persistence of Vision 
ray tracer), a free 3D graphics 
application 

.PP— Compressed Amiga archive 
file used in PowerPacker, for 
PalmPilots 

.PP4-Picture Publisher 4.0 file 
from Micrografx 

.PP5-Picture Publisher 5.0 file 
from Micrografx 

.PRO— Configuration file found in 
Pro/ENGINEER, design software 
from Parametric Technology 

.PROP— Three-dimensional object 
file found in the Application 
Visualization System application, 
from Advanced Visual Systems 

.PRS— Printer resource font file 
used with Corel WordPerfect for 
Windows 

.PRS— Procedure file found in the 
dBASE IV database program 

.PRT-Part file found in Pro/EN- 
GINEER, a 3D engineering pro- 
gram from PTC 

.PRX— Compile program file used 
in Microsoft Visual FoxPro 

.PRZ— Graphics file used in Lotus 
Freelancer 97, a personal infor- 
mation manager application 

.PS— File created in PostScript, an 
Adobe Systems page description 
language program used by 
printers to read the contents of a 
page before it is printed 



.PSD— Bit map file used in Adobe 
Photoshop (1990 release) 

.PSM— Sound data file found in 
the Epic Pinball game from Epic 
MegaGames 

.PT4— Template file found in 
Adobe PageMaker 4.0 

.PT5— Template file found in 
Adobe PageMaker 5.0 

.PUB— Document file created in 
Microsoft Publisher 

.PZX— Swap file used with found 
in Pizazz Plus, a family of screen 
capture programs from 
Application Techniques 



.QPX— Generated query program 
file found in Microsoft Visual 
FoxPro 

.QRS— Equation editor support file 
used in Corel's WordPerfect for 
Windows 

.QRT— Three-dimensional object 
(scene) file found in the QRT ray 
tracer 

.QRY-Query file created in dBASE 
IV, a database application from 
dBASE, Inc. 

.QSD— Date file used in Quicken, 
home finance software from 
Intuit 

.QT— Movie file associated with 
QuickTime, an Apple application 
that lets Mac and Windows users 
play audio and video files on their 
PCs. QuickTime was originally 
released in 1991; the current ver- 
sion is QuickTime 6.5 

.QTI— QuickTime image file 

.QTIF— QuickTime image file 

.QTM— QuickTime movie file 

.QTP— Preferences file found in 
QuickTime, an Apple application 
that allows Mac and Windows 
users to play audio and video files 
on their PCs 

.QTS— QuickTime image file 

.QTVR— Three-dimensional scene 
file (QuickTime Virtual Reality 
platform), from Apple 

.QTX— QuickTime image file 

.QW— Write program file found in 
the Q&A applications from 
Symantec 

.QWK— Message file created in the 
QWK Reader email application 



■QXD— Data file used in Quark 
Xpress, a desktop publishing ap- 
plication that debuted in 1987. 
The current version is 6.5 

.QXL— Element library file found 
in the Quark Xpress family of 
desktop publishing programs 

.QXP— Document created in the 
Quark Xpress desktop publishing 
program 

.QXT— Template filed used in the 
Quark Xpress desktop publishing 
application 



.R— Resource file used in the 
Pegasus Mail email application 

.RA— RealAudio file, played on the 
RealPlayer from RealNetworks 

.RAD— Radar data file created in 
Radar ViewPoint, a radar data 
analysis application from Airways 
Technology 

.RAD— Three-dimensional native 
file format found in Radiance, a 
free ray tracer (architectural ren- 
dering) application designed pri- 
marily for the Unix operating 
system by the Lawrence Berkeley 
National Laboratory 

.RAM-Metafile used with 
RealAudio, played on the 
RealPlayer from RealNetworks 

.RAO-File used in ReadAUOver, 
an imaging software from 
YOUniverse Systems 

■RAR— Compressed archive file 
created by RAR Archiver 

.RAS (see .RF, .SRF, .SUN) Sun 

Raster graphics file, from Sun 
Microsystems. A raster graphic is 
a digital image named for the 
viewing area on a computer's 
monitor 

.RAY— Three-dimensional object 
file used in the RayDream anima- 
tion program, from Ray Dream 

.RAY— Three-dimensional object 
file found in Rayshade, a freeware 
ray tracer for the Unix operating 
system created by Craig Kolb 

.RBF-Data file created in R:BASE, 
a family of multiuser database ap- 
plications from R:BASE Tech- 
nologies 

.RC— This is the resource script file 
that is used with the Microsoft C 
and C++ programming languages, 
as well as the Borland C++ 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 199 



^J File Extension Index 



programming language 

.RC— Configuration file used in 
Emacs, a real-time display editor 
from GNU Software 

.RCG— Newsgroup file used with 
Netscape Navigator Internet 
browser 

.RCH— Script file associated with 
Applause (CUESoft.com) applica- 
tions running on PalmPilots 

.RDF— Compiled UIC source code 
file used with Geoworks UI 
Compiler 

■RDL— Registered level file created 
in the Descent gaming application 
from Descent Network Team 

.REC-Data file used with the 
Epilnfo statistics application 

.REC— Voice file found in 
RapidComm, from U.S. Robotics 

.REC— Recorded macro file found 
in Microsoft Windows 3.x oper- 
ating systems 

.REG— Registration file, found in 
various applications 

.REG— Registration file found in 
Microsoft Windows 3.x 

.REP— Reply file created with the 
QWK Reader email program 

.REP— Report file created in Visual 
dBASE, a database application 
from dBASE, Inc. 

.REP— Report file created with 
Visual Report Designer, from 
Timberline Software 

.REP— Organizer layout files used 
in SmartSuite, from Lotus 

.RES— Resource file used with the 
Microsoft Visual C++ program- 
ming language 

.RES— Compiled resource file cre- 
ated with the Borland C++ pro- 
gramming language 

.RES— Resource file created by the 
dBASE IV database application, 
from dBASE, Inc. 

.REV— Revision file used in 
Geo Works, a mobile communica- 
tions platform 

.REX— Source code file used with 
the Rexx procedural program- 
ming language 

.REX— Report definition file cre- 
ated in the Oracle database appli- 
cation, from Oracle 

.RF (see .RAS)-Sun Raster 
graphics file, from Sun 



Microsystems 

.RH— Resource header file used 
with the Borland C++ program- 
ming language (version 4.5) 

.Rl— Product registration informa- 
tion file used in Lotus SmartSuit 

.RIB— Three-dimensional object 
file created in the Renderman 
Interface Bytestream protocol, 
from Pixar Animation Studios 

.RIF— Image file used in Meta- 
Creations Painter 5.0 for 
Macintosh 

.RIF— RIFF bit map graphics file 
used in Painter, from Fractal 
Design 

.RIFF— Multimedia file created in 
the Resource Interchange File 
Format, from Microsoft 

.RMF— Rich Map Format file, used 
in various 3D games to store 
maps 

.RMF— Rich Music Format audio 
file from Beatnik 

■RMI— MIDI (musical instrument 
digital interface) music file, used 
in various applications; MIDI is 
the protocol for changing musical 
sounds into electronic data 

.RMK— Make file used in Clipper 
RMake, from Computer 
Associates 

.RMM-Media file used with 
RealPlayer 

.RN— Program file found in Nota 
Bene, an academic research and 
writing application from Nota 
Bene Associates 

.RNX-Media file used with 
RealPlayer 

.ROV— Data file used in the Rescue 
Rover gaming application from id 
Software 

.RPD— Database file used in 
RapidFile, a database application 
from Ashton-Tate 

.RPL— Text document file used in 
Replica Technology three-dimen- 
sional object libraries 

.RPL-Video file found in the 
Tomb Raider gaming application 
from Eidos Interactive Limited 

.RPM-Media file that runs on 
RealPlayer from RealNetworks 

.RSC— Resource file, found in var- 
ious applications 

■RSL— Reports file crated in 



Paradox 7 from Broderbund 

■RSM- Resume file found in 
Winway Resume Writer, for 
Windows 95/98 

.RTF— Rich Text Format docu- 
ment file. RTF is a "plain-Jane" 
text document format that can 
be opened and read by a variety 
of operating systems and appli- 
cations 

.RTL— Run-Time Library file from 
Norton Utilities/Symantec 

.RTM— Music module file used 
with Real Tracker, a digital music 
composition program 

.RTP-Update file found in 
TurboTax, from Intuit 

.RTS— Runtime library file used in 
CA-Realizer, a visual develop- 
ment application from Computer 
Associates 



.S— Assembler source code file 
used with the Unix operating 
system 

.S3D— File found in three-dimen- 
sional graphics programs iGrafx 
3D and Simply 3D, both from 
Micrografx 

.S3M- File created with the 
Scream Tracker 3 digital music 
composition program 

.SB!— Locking file used with 
Superbase, a peer-to-peer 
client/server database from 
Superbase Developers 

.SC— Script file used with 
Broderbund's Paradox 

.SCN— Three-dimensional object 
file used with the RTrace ray 
tracer 

.SCO— High score file used in var- 
ious gaming applications 

.SCR— Screensaver file, found in 
various programs including 
Microsoft Windows 

.SCR— Debug source code file used 
in DOS Debug 

.SCR— Screen snapshot file used 
with dBASE IV, a database appli- 
cation from dBASE, inc. 

.SCR— Screen snapshot file found 
in the ProComm Plus terminal 
emulation applications from 
Symantec 

.SCR— Screen font file found in 
Locoscript, a localization and 



translation service 

.SCT— Screen file used with 
Microsoft Visual FoxPro database 
applications 

■SCX— Forms file found in the 
Microsoft FoxPro database 
program 

.SCX— Chart file created in 
Stanford Chart, a graphing appli- 
cation from Visual Numerics 

.SCX— Bit map graphics file used 
in ColorRIX 

.SD— Audio file used in Sound 
Designer 

■SD2— Audio file used in Sound 
Designer II 

■SDA— Drawing file created in 
StarOffice, a suite of business ap- 
plications from Sun Microsystems 

.SDC— Spreadsheet file created in 
StarOffice, a suite of business ap- 
plications from Sun Microsystems 

■SDD— Presentation file created in 
StarOffice, a suite of business ap- 
plications from Sun Microsystems 

.SDL— Library file found in 
SmartDraw for Windows, a busi- 
ness graphics application from 
Smart Draw Software 

■SDW— Text file created in 
StarOffice, a suite of business ap- 
plications from Sun Microsystems 

.SEA— Self-extracting file used 
with Stufflt compression/decom- 
pression programs, from Aladdin 
Systems 

■SED— Screen editor script file. A 
script is a series of command that 
can be executed at the touch of a 

button 

■SEL— Selection file used in 
PaintShop Pro, from Jasc 
Software 

.SEP— A printer separator page file 
found in various applications 

■SES— Session file found in 
Cool Edit, a digital audio music 
editor program from Syntrillium 
Software 

.SET— Voice set file used in appli- 
cations from Quartet Software 
Ltd., a British company that 
makes programs for the health 
care industry 

.SGF— Graphics file found in 
Sonique, a line of Web-based 
media and MP3 players 

.SGF— Three-dimensional object 



200 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q File Extension Index 



file (Standard Graphics Format) 
created by the U.S. Naval Aca- 
demy, used to store geometric 
data 

■SGL— Master document used in 
StarOffice, a suite of business ap- 
plications from Sun Microsystems 

.SGML— File created in the 
Standard Generalized Markup 
Language, an international stan- 
dard for electronic document ex- 
change and the basis for the 
HTML and XML languages 

.SH— Shell script file used with the 
Unix operating system 

.SHADE— Three-dimensional 
object file used in the RayDream 
animation program, from Ray 
Dream 

.SHADE— Three-dimensional ob- 
ject file found in Rayshade, a free- 
ware ray tracer for the Unix 
operating system created by Craig 
Kolb 

■SHG— Bit map graphics file found 
in Web Hotspots Imagemapper, 
an image map editor from 
1 automata 

.SHK— Compressed archive file 
created by Shrinklt, a compres- 
sion utility for the Apple II 
computer 

.SHK— Compressed archive file 
created by compression utility 
Arthurian Shrink Archiver 

■SHM— Shell macro file used in the 
Corel WordPerfect for Windows 
library 

.SHP— Shape file for text fonts 
used with AutoCAD, general de- 
sign software from Autodesk 

.SHTML-An HTML (Hypertext 
Markup Language) file that con- 
tains SSIs (server side includes), 
which are commands that execute 
CGI programs 

■SHW— Presentation file created in 
CorelSHOW 

.SHW— Slide show file used in 
WordPerfect for Windows, from 
Corel 

■SHX— Shape entities file used with 
AutoCAD, general design soft- 
ware from Autodesk 

.SHX— Shapefile spatial index file 
used in ArcView, a line of map- 
ping and GIS applications from 
RockWare 

.SIF— Setup installation file used 



in Microsoft Windows NT oper- 
ating system 

.SIG— Signature file created in the 
PopMail email application from 
PopMail.com 

.SIK— Backup file created in 
Microsoft Word for Windows 

.SIT— Compressed archive file for 
Macintosh computers created 
with Stufflt, a line of compression 
programs from Aladdin Systems 

.SIZ— Configuration file used in 
Oracle 7, a database application 
from Oracle 

.SKF— Drawing file created in 
AutoSketch, a drawing tool from 
Autodesk 

■SKL— Resource file used in the 
Macromedia Director multimedia 
authoring program 

.SL— S-Lang language source code 
file 

■SLB— Slide library file found in 
AutoCAD, general design soft- 
ware from Autodesk 

.SLD-Slide file used in AutoCAD, 
general design software from 
Autodesk 

.SLI-Slide file used in MAGICorp 
Slide Service 

.SLL— Sound data file found in 
various applications 

.SLW— Symbol library file found 
in TurboCAD, a line of com- 
puter-aided design products from 
IMSI 

.SM— Source code file used in the 
Smalltalk programming language 

.SM— Script file used in 
ScriptMaker, a series of free 
script-writing applications from 
TaFWeb Software 

.SM— Text file used in Samna 
Word, an early word-processing 
application from Samna 

.SM3— Symbol file found in 
DataCAD, a business-to-business 
architecture application from 
DataCAD LLC 

.SMD-Mail file created in 
StarOffice, a suite of business ap- 
plications from Sun Microsystems 

.SMD-Mail file found in 
StarOffice, a suite of business 
applications from Sun Micro- 
systems 

■SMF— Fax document created in 
SmartFax, from RingCentral 



.SMK— Image file used in Deer's 
Revenge, a simulation sporting 
game from ValuSoft 

.SMM— Macro file found in Ami 
Pro, an older word-processing ap- 
plication from Lotus 

.SMM— Macro file used in Ami 
Pro from Lotus 

.SMP— Gallery files that can be im- 
ported into and exported from 
Ulead Systems' PhotoImpact 
(versions 4-7) 

.SMP— Sample file used with 
AdLib Gold, a sound card from 
Synrise/Adlib Multimedia 

.SMT— Text file created in Smart 
Ware II 

.SMT— SmartObject file used in 
IconAuthor, a family of multi- 
media authoring applications 
from PPS Technology, an 
Australian company 

■SNDR— Sound file used in 
Sounder, an application for cre- 
ating musical environments for 
the PC from Perpetual Music 

.SNDT-Audio file found in the 
shareware application Sndtool 

.SNG-MIDI (the musical instru- 
ment digital interface protocol) 
song file used in Midisoft Studio 

.SON— Song file used in Creative 
Labs' SoundBlaster Studio II 
sound card 

.SOU— Sound file used in Creative 
Labs' SoundBlaster Studio sound 
card 

.SP4— Saved game file created in 
the RollerCoaster Tycoon gaming 
application from Hasbro 
Interactive 

.SPC— Temporary file created in 
WordPerfect for Windows, from 
Corel 

.SPC— Program file found in 
MultiPlan, an early spreadsheet 
application from Microsoft 

.SPD— Scalable font file used in 
Speedo, from Bitstream 

.SPF— Three-dimensional object 
file (Simple Polygon Format), 
created at the U.S. Naval 
Academy and used to store geo- 
metric data 

.SPI— Graphics file used with 
Siemens scanners 

.SPL-Object file used with 
Macromedia's Flash and 



Shockwave players 

.SPL— Compressed file created by 
the SPLINT archive utility from 
Simtel 

.SPM— Data file found in Corel 
WordPerfect for Windows 

.SPR— Screen program file created 
in the Visual FoxPro database ap- 
plication from Microsoft 

.SPT— Source code file used in 
SPITBOL, a 32-bit "dialect" of the 
programming language 
SNOBOL4, from Catspaw 

.SPU— Picture file found in 
Spectrum 512, an older graphics 
program created for used on the 
Atari ST computer 

.SPW— Worksheet file used in 
SigmaPlot, a graphing application 
from SPSS Science 

■SQL— Any of various files created 
when the Structured Query 
Language, a database sub-lan- 
guage, runs a query for informa- 
tion in the database 

.SQP— Query file created when an 
audio search is conducted in 
Sonique, a line of Web-based 
media and MP3 players 

■SQR— Program file used with the 
Structured Query Language, a 
database sub-language created 
by IBM 

■SQZ— Compressed file created by 
the compression utility Squeeze, 
from Sorenson Media 

.SRF (see .RAS)-Sun Raster 
graphics file, from Sun 
Microsystems 

■SRZ— Source file used in 
DataFlex, a Data Access Corp. 
program for developing database 
applications 

.SSA— Video file found in Sub 
Station Alpha, a freeware video 
subtitling program for the 
Windows operating system 

.ST— Source code file associated 
with Little Smalltalk, an open ver- 
sion of the Smalltalk program- 
ming language 

.ST— Instrument library file used 
with Scream Tracker, a line of ap- 
plications for composing digital 
music 

.ST— Stamp file used in NeoPaint 
for Windows, an image-editing 
application from NeoSoft 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 201 



^J File Extension Index 



.STA— Saved state file created in 
Reflection 4.0, a Web-based ter- 
minal emulation program from 
WRQ 

.STD— Standard script file used in 
the Locoscript localization and 
translation service 

.STEP— Three-dimensional mod- 
eling file created in the Standard 
for the Exchange of Product 
Mode Data format and used with 
the Trispectives and UniGraphics 
applications 

.STF— Compressed archive file 
created by the ShrinkToFit com- 
pression utility 

.STL— Three-dimensional object 
file (Stereolithography Interface 
Format, binary) used in the SLA 
CAD application, from 3D 
Systems 

.SUN (see .RAS)-Raster graphics 
file, from Sun Microsystems 

.SUP— Supplementary dictionary 
file used with Corel's 
WordPerfect for Windows 

,SW— Three-dimensional object 
file (SuperViewer format) used 
with the I3DM database modeling 
program and IRIS Performer ap- 
plication, from Silicon Graphics 

.SVD— Autosave document file 
found in Microsoft Word and 
Corel's WordPerfect for Windows 

.SWF— Simple Vector Format two- 
dimensional image file found in 
MicroStation, from Bentley 
Systems 

.SVG— Scalable vector graphics file 
found in various Adobe graphics 
applications 

.SVG— Autosave file used with the 
Corel WordPerfect for Windows 
glossary 

.SWP— Swap file, which is a 
hidden file used in a Microsoft 
Windows environment to move 
data in and out of memory 

.SWP— Swap file used with 
DataCAD, a business-to-business 
architecture application from 
DataCAD 

.SYM— Precompiled header file as- 
sociated with the Borland C++ 
programming language 

.SYN— Synonym file used in 
Microsoft Word 

.SYS-Data file used in SYSTAT, a 
statistical and analytical graphics 



application from HALLoGRAM 
Publishing 

.SYS— System file found on var- 
ious operating systems 



.T— Source file found in TADS 
(Text Adventure Development 
System), a freeware gaming 
system 

.T— Tester symbol file found in 
ReaGeniX Programmer, an appli- 
cation from OBP Research used 
with systems created in the ANSI- 
C programming language 

.T2T— File used in Sonata CAD, a 
modeling application 

.TAG— Query tag name file used in 
Dataplex, a Data Access Corp. 
program for developing database 
applications 

.TAH— Turbo assembler help file 
created with the Borland C++ 
programming language 

.TAL— Text illustration file created 
in TypeAlign, an older illustration 
program from Adobe 

.TAR— Compressed Unix tape 
archive file 

.TAX— File found in TurboTax, 
from Intuit 

.TAZ— Tape archive file for the 
Unix operating system com- 
pressed in the GZIP compression 
utility 

.TBI —Font file used with the 
Borland Turbo C programming 
language 

.TB2-Font file used with the 
Borland Turbo C programming 
language 

.TBF— Fax document created in 
TurboFax, a fax application for 
the OpenStep technology from 
Apple Computer 

.TC— Configuration file used with 
the Borland C++ programming 
language 

.TC— Configuration file used in the 
Turbo C programming language 

.TCH— Turbo C help file created 
with the Borland C++ program- 
ming language 

.TD— Configuration file found in 
Turbo Debugger for Windows, an 
application that corrects pro- 
gramming bugs. Turbo Debugger, 
from Borland, was written for the 
C++ programming language 



.TDH (see .TD)-Help file found in 
Turbo Debugger, from Borland 

.TEXT-Plain text (ASCII) file, 
similar to those with the .TXT ex- 
tension, that works with a variety 
of word-processing applications, 
such as Microsoft Word 

.TGI —Project file found in On 
Target, a real estate analysis pro- 
gram from Advantage Software 

.TGA— Truevision Targa graphics 
file developed by Truevision, used 
in various high-end paint and 
CAD applications 

.TGV— Video file found in the 
Need for Speed series of com- 
puter games from Electronic Arts 

.TGZ— Compressed file created 
with PKZIP, from PKWare, or 
GZIP, a compression utility for 
the Unix operating system 

.THEME— Desktop theme file used 
in Microsoft Windows 95/98 
operating systems 

.THS— Thesaurus dictionary file 
used in Corel WordPerfect for 
Windows 

.TIF— TIFF (Tagged Image File 
Format) file. Created as a way of 
saving scanned images, TIFF is a 
method of storing bit-mapped 
images on both PCs and 
Macintosh computers. 

.TLP— Project timeline file used 
with Microsoft Project, a project 
management application in Office 
2000 

.TMESH— Three-dimensional ob- 
ject file found in the Echo scan- 
ning program, from Cyberware 

.TMF— Tagged font metric file 
used in WordPerfect for 
Windows, from Corel 

.TMP— Temporary file used in 
Microsoft Windows operating 
systems 

.TP— Configuration file found in 
Turbo Pascal, from Borland 

.TSS (see .TRT)-Project file used 
in Team Sports Scheduling 
System 

.TSX (see .TRT)-XML project file 
used in Team Sports Scheduling 
System 

.TTF— Generic TrueType font file 
used in applications for Windows 
and Macintosh computers. A 
TrueType font can be printed or 
displayed on screen at any size 



.TTK— Translation toolkit file used 
in Catalyst, an internally used 
program for translating software 
and documentation from Corel 

JUT / .TUV-Tutorial file, used in 
various applications 

.TXI— Support file created with 
TeX, a computer language created 
by Donald Knuth for use in type- 
setting, especially math 

.TXT— Text file used with various 
word processing applications, in- 
cluding Microsoft Word 

.TYM— Time stamp file found in 
Adobe PageMaker 4.0 



■UAA— Saved project file made in 
Ulead Systems' Animation Applet 
(versions 1 and 2) 

.UCN— New compressed archive 
created by UltraCompressor II 

.UDF— Unique database file found 
in the Microsoft Windows NT 
operating system 

.UDF— Image filter file used in 
Aldus PhotoStyler, an image- 
editing application 

■UE2— Encrypted archive file cre- 
ated with UltraCompressor II, an 
archiving program from the 
Dutch company AIPNL 

■UES— Ulead Explorer Slideshow 
file, found in Ulead Systems' 
Photo Explorer (versions 6-7) 

.UFO-Ulead File Object, found in 
Ulead Systems' PhotoImpact 
(versions 4-7) 

■UGA— Saved project file generated 
in Ulead Systems' GIF Animator 5 

.Ul— Source code file found in the 
Geoworks UI Compiler 

■UIH— Header file found in the 
Geoworks UI Compiler 

■UIS— Image Sequence file used in 
Ulead Systems' MediaStudio Pro 
(versions 6.0 and 6.5) 

■ULAW— Generic audio file used 
with various audio applications 

.ULT-Music module (MOD) cre- 
ated in the UltraTracker digital 
music format 

■UNC— Three-dimensional object 
file created at the University of 
North Carolina and used to store 
geometric data in architectural 
programs 

■UNX— Text file used in the Unix 



202 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



(Q File Extension Index 



operating system 

.UPJ— Project file used in Ulead 
Systems, Inc., applications 

.UPJ— Photo Joiner file used in 
Ulead Systems' COOL 360 appli- 
cation 

.UPO— Compiled updated data file 
used in the dBASE database pro- 
gram from dBASE, Inc. 

.UPX— Saved image file used in 
Photo Express, an image-editing 
application from Ulead Systems 

■USR— User database file used with 
the ProComm Plus terminal em- 
ulation applications from 
Symantec 

.USR-Audit trail file used with 
Pro/ENGINEER, a 3D engi- 
neering program from PTC 

.USR— User database file created 
with the Turbo C++ program- 
ming language 

.UU— File compressed in 
Uuencode, a Unix-originated 
protocol for transferring files be- 
tween various platforms 



.V— Main image input file used in 
Vivid 2.0, an image manipulation 
(ray tracer) utility written by 
Stephen B. Coy 

.V8-Audio file found in the 8-bit 
Covox Voice Master Jr., a hard- 
ware add-on for old Atari PCs 

.VAL— Asset management docu- 
ment created in OmniValue, a fi- 
nancial management shareware 
program from Milliplex 

.VAR— Variable file used in 
IconAuthor, a family of multi- 
media authoring applications 
from PPS Technology, an 
Australian company 

.VBD-An ActiveX file written in 
VBScript. ActiveX is technology 
developed by Microsoft that gov- 
erns how programs share infor- 
mation 

.VBP— Project file used in 
Microsoft Visual Basic develop- 
ment applications 

.VBR— Remote automated regis- 
tration file used in Microsoft 
Visual Basic, development soft- 
ware for business applications 

.VBS— Script file used in 
Microsoft Visual Basic develop- 
ment applications 



.VBW— Workspace file used in 
MS Visual Basic development 
applications 

.VC— Spreadsheet file used in 
VisiCalc, an early spreadsheet ap- 
plication from Software Arts 

.VC— Color definitions file found 
in Vivid 2.0, an image manipula- 
tion (ray tracer) utility written by 
Stephen B. Coy 

.VCA— Three-dimensional object 
file used in the VRT ray tracer 
program, from SuperScape 

.VCE— Unformatted voice file used 
in Cool Edit, a digital audio music 
editor program from Syntrillium 
Software 

.VCE— Unformatted voice file 
found in programs by NMS 
Communications, makers of 
wireless voice systems and wired 
network voice programs 

.VCF— File associated with vCard, 
a specification, controlled by the 
Internet Mail Consortium, for in- 
formation exchange using elec- 
tronic business and personal 
cards 

.VCT— Class library file used in the 
Microsoft FoxPro database appli- 
cation 

.VCW— Visual workbench infor- 
mation file created in the 
Microsoft visual C++ program- 
ming language 

.VCX— Class library file used in the 
Microsoft FoxPro database appli- 
cation 

.VDA— Targa bit map graphics file 
from Truevision 

■VECT— Three-dimensional object 
file (Object Oriented Graphics 
Library format) developed at the 
University of Minnesota's 
Geometry Center for use with the 
Geomview application 

.VEL— Three-dimensional drawing 
file used in professional CAD ap- 
plications from Ashler- Vellum 

.VEW— View file used in Lotus 
Approach 

.VGA— Video Graphics Array dis- 
play font or display driver file. 
Developed by IBM, VGA is a dis- 
play standard for monitors 

.VGR— Graphics file used in Corel 
VENTURA Publisher 

.VID— Screen device driver file 
found in the Microsoft Word 



word-processing program. A 
device driver allows hardware 
peripherals, such as a monitor, to 
communicate with a PC 

.VID— Three-dimensional scene 
file used in the VideoScape appli- 
cation 

.VIV— Streaming video file used 
with VivoActive, a video player 
from Vivo Software 

.VIZ— Three-dimensional object 
file created in dVS, from Division, 
Ltd. 

.VLB— Three-dimensional object 
file found in Vivid 2.0, an image 
manipulation (ray tracer) utility 
written by Stephen B. Coy 

.VLB— Library file used in Corel 
VENTURA Publisher 

.VLM— Drafting program file cre- 
ated in Vellum, a professional- 
level CAD application from 
Ashler-Vellum 

.VM— Virtual memory file found 
in products from Geoworks, 
makers of software for mobile and 
handheld devices 

.VMC— Virtual memory configura- 
tion file found in Adobe Acrobat, 
a program that converts docu- 
ments to Adobe Portable 
Document Format files 

.VMF— Audio file found in 
FaxWorks, a business fax services 
application from SNET 

.VML— Vector markup language 
file used in applications of the 
Microsoft Office 2000 suite 

.VRML— Proposed file format for 
the Labyrinth Virtual Reality 
Markup Language format 

.VRP— Project file created in 
VXRexx, a visual development 
environment for the OS/2 oper- 
ating system (IBM) from Watcom 
Software 

.VRS— Graphics driver file used in 
Corel WordPerfect 

.VRT— Three-dimensional object 
file used in the VRT ray tracer 
program, from SuperScape 

.VS— Surface definition file found 
in Vivid 2.0, an image manipula- 
tion (ray tracer) utility written by 
Stephen B. Coy 

.VSD— Drawing file created in 
Microsoft Visio 2002 

.VSL— Download list file found in 



GetRight, an Internet download 
manager application from 
Headlight Software 

.VSP— Data print file created in 
ScheduleSoft, a line of scheduling 
applications from ScheduleSoft 

.VSS-Stencil file created in 
Microsoft Visio 2002 



■WAB— Address Book file used in 
the Microsoft Outlook email 
application 

■WBK— Backup file used in 
Microsoft Word and Corel 
WordPerfect 

.WBL— Upload file used in 
Webload II, a Web page up- 
loading application from 
Freedom2 

.WBT— Template found in 
Wordbar, a writing support appli- 
cation from Crick Software, a 
British company specializing in 
literacy software 

.WCWI— Data transmission file 
used in Microsoft Works 

■WCM— Macro file found in Corel 
WordPerfect 

.WDB— Database file used in 
Microsoft Works 

.WEB— Web document created in 
XARA, a vector drawing applica- 
tion formerly owned by Corel but 
now owned by Xara 

.WFB-Bank file used in 
WaveFront, from Voyetra Turtle 
Beach, makers of digital audio 
products 

.WFD— Audio waveform file found 
in Metratek WaveForm Manager 
Pro, an oscilloscope waveform 
program from BLI 

.WFL— Flowchart file created in 
WinFlow, a line of flowchart ap- 
plications for Windows from 
FlowCharts.com 

.WFP— Program file found in 
WaveFront, from Voyetra Turtle 
Beach, makers of digital audio 
products 

.WG1 —Worksheet file used in 
Lotus 1-2-3 

■WG2— Worksheet file used in 
Lotus 1-2-3 

.WGP-A data file found in Wild 
Board Games, a suite of five 
games designed for the PC from 
Corel 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 203 



^J File Extension Index 



.WID-Width table used in 
VENTURA Publisher, a graphics 
application from Corel 

.WIN— Window preference file 
used in Pro/ENGINEER, a 3D en- 
gineering program from PTC 

.WIN— Window file associated 
with Microsoft Visual FoxPro 
database application 

.WIN— Window file used in dBase 
database programs 

.WIZ— Wizard file found in 
Microsoft applications, including 
Word and Publisher 

.WK1 —Spreadsheet file used in 
Lotus 1-2-3 (versions 1 and 2) 

.WK3— Spreadsheet file used in 
Lotus 1-2-3 (version 3) 

.WK4— Spreadsheet file used in 
Lotus 1-2-3 (version 4) 

■WKB— Document file found in 
Corel WordPerfect applications 

■WKE— Spreadsheet file found in 
Lotus 1-2-3 (educational version) 

.WKQ— Spreadsheet file used in 
Corel's Quattro Pro 

.WKS— Spreadsheet file associated 
with Lotus Symphony 1.0, the 
spreadsheet application that re- 
placed Lotus 1-2-3 

.WKS— Document file created in 
the Microsoft Works word 
processor 

.WKS— Workspace file used in the 
XLISP programming language 

.WLD— Three-dimensional object 
file (WorLD format) found in the 
REND386, VR386, AVRIL and 
Gossamer graphics applications 

.WLF— Upload file used in Upload 
I, a Web page uploading applica- 
tion from Freedom2 

■WLL— Word add-in file found in 
Microsoft Works Suite 2002 

.WMF-Metafile (a type of 
graphics file) found in Microsoft 
Windows operating systems and 
Windows-based programs 

.WN-Text file created in NeXt 
WriteNow, an older word-pro- 
cessing application 

.WOC— Organization chart file 
used in Microsoft Windows 
OrgChart 

.WP— Document file used in Corel 
WordPerfect applications 

.WPD— Document created in 



Corel WordPerfect (version 6. 1 
or higher) 

.WPF— Text file used in Corel 
WordPerfect applications 

.WPF— Fax document created in 
the WorldPort faxing application 

.WPG— Graphics file used in Corel 
WordPerfect applications 

.WPM-Macro file found in the 
Microsoft Word word-processing 
program 

.WPS— Text document created in 
the Microsoft Works word 
processor 

.WPT— Template file used in Corel 
WordPerfect applications 

.WPT— Works template file found 
in Microsoft Works Suite 2002 

.WPW— Document created in 
PerfectWorks for Windows (for- 
merly WordPerfect Works) from 
Novell 

.WQ2— Spreadsheet file used in 
Corel Quattro Pro.WSD 
Document created in WordStar 
for Windows 2000 

.WSP— Workspace file found in 
FORTRAN PowerStation, a line 
of compiler applications from 
Microsoft 

.WST— Document created in 
WordStar for Windows, an older 
family of word-processing pro- 
grams 

.WWP— User information (per- 
sonal data) file created in 
Broderbund WillWriter 

.WX— Saved weather file found in 
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 



.X— Source code file used in LEX 
(lexical analyzer generator), a 
compiler for programming lan- 
guages. A compiler interprets a 
high-end programming language 
into a basic language computers 
understand 

.XAR— Drawing file created in 
XARA, a vector drawing applica- 
tion formerly owned by Corel but 
now owned by Xara 

.XDL-File created in XML 
Schema, a version of the 
Extensible Markup Language 
(XML, the protocol for creating 
Web documents) 

.XFN— Printer font file used with 
Xerox printers 



.XFN— Printer font file used in 
Corel VENTURA Publisher 

.XHTML— File created in the 
Extensible HyperText Markup 
Language, based on the Extensible 
Markup Language (XML) but 
also an outgrowth of HTML 4 
(Hypertext Markup Language), 
both protocols for creating Web 
documents 

.XI— Instrument sample file found 
in Scream Tracker applications 
for composing digital music 

.XI— Instrument file used in Fast- 
Tracker II, a digital music editor 
and player from Starbreeze 
Studios AB 

.XIF— Image file created in Pagis, a 
family of scanning applications 
from ScanSoft 

.XLA— Add-in file found in 
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet 
applications 

.XLA— Add-in file found in 
Microsoft Excel (Office) 2002 

.XLB— Data file found in Microsoft 
Excel spreadsheet applications 

.XLC— Chart file found in 
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet 
applications 

.XLK— Backup file found in 
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet 
applications 

.XLL— Add-in file found in the 
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet 
application 

.XLL— Dynamic link library file 
used in the Microsoft Excel 
spreadsheet application 

.XLM— Macro file found in 
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet 
applications 

.XLT— Template file used in 
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet 
applications 

.XLT— Translation table used in 
ProComm Plus, a security appli- 
cation from Symantec 

.XLW— Workbook file created in 
Excel (Microsoft Office 2002) 

.XM— Music module file found in 
FastTracker II, a digital music ed- 
itor and player from Starbreeze 
Studios AB 

.XML-XML spreadsheet file 
found in Microsoft Excel 2002 

.XML— A file created in the 
Extensible Markup Language, a 



protocol for designing Web doc- 
uments 

.XQT— Macro file used in 
SuperCalc, a scientific calculator 
program written in lava 

.XQT— Executable file associated 
with Waffle, a USENET-compat- 
ible bulletin board system 

.XTP— Data file used in XTree and 
XTree Gold, disk management 
software from Central Point 
Software 

.XWK— Keyboard mapping file 
used with Crosstalk Communi- 
cator, fax/modem software from 
Intel 

.XWP— Session file found in 
Crosstalk Communicator, 
fax/modem software from Intel 

.XWP— Text file created in Xerox 
Writer, a word-processing appli- 
cation 

.XY— Text file created in XyWrite, 
a word-processing program from 
The Technology Group 

.XYP— Document file created in 
XyWrite Plus, a word-processing 
program from The Technology 
Group 



.Y— Compressed archive file made 
with the Yabba compression 
utility for the Unix operating 
system 

.YUV— Graphics file found in the 
YUV color-encoding scheme 

.YZ— Compressed file made with 
the YAC (Yet Another 
Compressor) utility 



.Z— Compressed ASCII archive 
file; also, a compressed file used in 
the Unix operating system 

.ZAP— Compressed file created by 
FileWrangler, a file management 
application from CursorArts 

■ZGM— Graphics file found in ap- 
plications from Zenographics, 
makers of imaging and printing 
applications 

.ZIP— Compressed archive file cre- 
ated by PKZIP, from PKWare 

.ZVD— Voice file used with the Z- 
Fax fax/modem, from ZyXEL 
Communications 



204 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



Miscellanea 



Delete Data 
From Your Desktop 

Make Sure The Files You Send 
To The Recycle Bin Are Really Gone 



Imagine the hero or heroine of a 
cheesy, poorly written thriller 
movie seated at the bad guy's 
computer. The hero deftly 
browses through the system, 
finds the location of the file con- 
taining the Secret Weapon's 
insidious details, and, just as 
the goon squad breaks down 
the door, presses the DELETE 
key. "FILE DELETED" reads 
an oversized, on-screen mes- 
sage that never exists in real 
OSes (operating systems). 
The hero leans back with a 
$20 million smirk. 

But our villain knows 
better, and he bellows a 
wicked mwa-ha-haa. "You 
may think you've deleted the 
plans for Weapon X, but you 
haven't. They're still on my 
hard drive, safe and sound, 
because file deletion doesn't 
really eliminate data." 

"Curses, foiled again!" ex- 
claims the hero, who wishes he had 
studied his PC mechanics better be- 
fore accepting this job. 

First Stop: The Recycle Bin 

If you're working in any contempo- 
rary version of Windows, a deleted fde 
is merely moved to the Recycle Bin. 

"Items moved to the Recycle Bin 
are not 100% deleted," says Marian 
Merritt, Symantec's group product 
manager for Norton SystemWorks. 
"Granted, somebody who doesn't 
know how to retrieve files won't be 



able to get this information back, but 
anyone who understands the Recycle 
Bin will be able to." 

Really, the Recycle Bin is little 
more than another folder. Using 
Windows Explorer or My Computer, 




you can easily copy or cut and paste 
files into and out of the Recycle Bin 
like any other regular folder. If the 
Recycle Bin is empty, the Recycle Bin 
icon on your Windows Desktop will 
appear empty. As soon as the folder 
contains one deleted item, though, 
the icon will appear filled with 
crumpled-up paper trash. 

There are several ways to get files 
and folders into the Recycle Bin. The 
easiest is probably to highlight any 
item in Windows Explorer or My 
Computer and press the DELETE 
key. Another is to drag icons from 



these two folders or the Desktop, 
hold them over the Recycle Bin so 
the wastebasket changes color, and 
then drop the file into the Recycle 
Bin by releasing the mouse button. 
(If you hold down the SHIFT key 
while dropping an item in the 
Recycle Bin or pressing the DELETE 
key, the file is deleted permanently, 
not moved.) You might delete a file 
from within an application via the 
Open or Save As menus or by right- 
clicking a file name and choosing the 
Delete option. 

"At this point, there's an API [ap- 
plication program interface], the 
Delete API, that is called up," says 
Pat Bloodwell, manager of technical 
support for Executive Software. 
"This happens when you 
delete from Explorer, an ap- 
plication, or any other in- 
terface in the operating 
system. Now, deleting with- 
in the Explorer or Desktop 
interfaces just moves the file 
into the Recycle Bin. How- 
ever, in most Windows ver- 
sions, if you delete a file 
from a command prompt 
or if you delete the file re- 
motely, all of those bypass 
the Recycle Bin, and your 
file is just gone." 

Bloodwell says all versions 
of Windows are equal when 
it comes to deleting files. He 
explains that when an appli- 
cation, such as Excel, over- 
writes a fde, the old version is deleted 
to make way for the new version. 
Most user-instigated deletions do go 
to the Recycle Bin, but many auto- 
matic deletions that applications carry 
out do not. 

Files located on remote network 
systems or on removable media are 
deleted outright because Windows 
creates a Recycle Bin for every fixed 
disk volume on the local system. For 
example, you may have one hard 
drive partitioned into three volumes, 
such as C:, D:, and E:. Each of these 
has its own Recycle Bin, although 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 205 



\\l Miscellanea 



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1. 762 KB 

1.771 KB 

1.805 KB 

2.125 KB 

185 KB 

292 KB 

4.454 KB 

12.605 KB * 

9.143 KB 

1 KB 

80 KB 

4.943 KB 

155 KB 

30 KB 

36 KB 

309 KB 

247 KB 

35 KB 

5 KB 

30 KB 

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Type: Adobe Photoshop Image Sbs- 12.3MB 12.3MB gj My Computer 



There are numerous ways to move files into the Windows 
Recycle Bin. One of the easiest is to drag and drop a file into 
the Recycle Bin icon on the Desktop. 



each may optionally be controlled si- 
multaneously. Floppy diskettes, 
recordable CD media, Zip disks, and 
files stored on remote systems obvi- 
ously don't fit this description, so 
data deleted from those kinds of 
sources is really discarded. 

Get it back. Once files are in the 
Recycle Bin, it's no great feat to get 
them back out. You can drag and 
drop or cut and paste them to any 
other system folder. To get into the 
Recycle Bin and view its contents, 
double-click the Desktop icon, and 
an application box that looks just like 
Windows Explorer appears. Pick any 
item from the Recycle Bin file/folder 
list and right-click it, then choose 
Restore to send the item back to its 
original location. 

Of course, like any other refuse 
container, eventually your Recycle 
Bin starts to overflow, and you need 
to dump some of its contents. Once 
you delete an item from the Recycle 
Bin, it is generally gone for good. 
You can choose which group of 
items to delete by pressing the CTRL 
key while clicking items, or if you 
are confident everything in the 
Recycle Bin can safely be flushed 
forever, right-click the Recycle Bin 
icon and select Empty Recycle Bin. 



You can also change the 
size of the Recycle Bin it- 
self. Right-click the Recycle 
Bin and select Properties. 
Depending on how your 
system is configured, you'll 
see several tabs, including 
one for every fixed disk 
volume. The Global tab is 
where you can elect to ei- 
ther set the size of each 
Recycle Bin individually or 
select the option to Use 
One Setting For All Drives. 
The slider lets you establish 
what percentage of the disk 
volume is used for storing 
Recycle Bin files. The de- 
fault is usually 10%, but on 
a 60GB drive, this is 6GB of 
space, probably an exces- 
sive amount for most users. Those 
who have 200GB hard drives almost 
certainly do not need to set aside 
20GB of space for their Recycle Bins. 
If you're confident in your ability 
never to delete one of your files by 
accident, go ahead and choose the 
Do Not Move Files To The Recycle 
Bin option. This way, every deletion 
you make is permanent. 

Beyond The Recycle Bin 

So if our movie hero thinks to 
delete the enemy file from the 
Recycle Bin, has he won the day? 
Hardly. There are many software ti- 
tles on the market adept at recov- 
ering seemingly deleted files. The 
reason these applications work is be- 
cause the file itself is left intact, only 
the pointer to it from the file system 
has changed. 

In a previous article, "How Drives 
Store Files" on page 24, we covered the 
FAT (file allocation table) and how 
computers use file systems to reference 
where data is stored on the hard drive. 
When you delete a file, Windows takes 
the easy path. It doesn't overwrite or 
blank out the file's data. Instead, the 
OS zeroes out the FAT values for 
the clusters containing the data and 



changes the first letter of the file's 
name in the disk directory. 

For example, say we have a file 
that occupies 50 consecutive clusters 
starting at cluster 1,000. Normally, the 
FAT entries for these 50 clusters point 
to the file's corresponding informa- 
tion in the data clusters. However, if 
the FAT entries contain values of zero, 
when the system goes to the FAT 
looking for the file, clusters 1,000 
through 1,049 now point nowhere on 
the disk, so the system assumes those 
clusters are available as free space. 

The good news is that systems gen- 
erally write data throughout a disk se- 
quentially before circling back to 
previously covered areas. Assuming 
we wrote data in clusters 1,000 
through 3,000, the first 50 of which 
was our deleted file, the computer 
would normally start writing new 
data at cluster 3,001, which has never 
been written, rather than at cluster 
1,000. This means your data may stay 
intact for days or even months as you 
go through the process of writing 
through your disk, unless you defrag. 

When you defrag, information on 
your drive is rearranged so data files 
are stacked back-to-back starting at 
the beginning of the disk. This aims 
to increase drive performance, but it 
also means that if your deleted file 
was in the opening areas of the disk, a 
defrag is likely to overwrite your old 
data clusters, leaving you beyond 
most hope for data recovery. Newer 
utilities that constantly monitor ap- 
plication usage, shifting the most- 
used titles to the fastest areas of the 
disk, also stand a good chance of 
overwriting deleted clusters. 

The same principles hold true 
for disk-level procedures, such as 
FORMAT and FDISK. All that's being 
changed is the FAT structure, not the 
data clusters. If your business is 
thinking of donating old PCs to the 
local high school and sends the ma- 
chines out the door following a simple 
FORMAT C:, don't be surprised if 
some intrepid sophomore recovers 
your contact list and accounting data 



206 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



^J Miscellanea 



and either posts it to the Internet or 
sells it to your competitors. 

Wipe It Clean 

Intentionally overwriting deleted 
data clusters simply by writing new 
files to your system is kind of a crap- 
shoot; maybe you'll overwrite the 
file, maybe you won't. Given the way 
large files typically get fragmented 
into nonconsecutive clusters, you're 
likely to delete only part of the file, 
leaving straggling bits of possibly 
sensitive information for some 
would-be snooper to discover. 

In general, the only way to make 
sure data stays dead is to wipe it. 
Wiping or cleaning are terms used to 
note intentionally overwriting clusters 
with garbage data. 

There are numerous protocols for 
safe data deletion, and perhaps the most 
prominent in the United States is the 
Department of Defense Document 
5220-22-M, National Industrial Secur- 
ity Program Operating Manual (www 
.dss.mil/isec/nispom.htm; see Chapter 
8: Automated Information System 
Security under the Clearing And 
Sanitization Matrix heading), which 
specifies three passes. The U.S. govern- 
ment recognizes three levels of wiping: 

• Clearing: Eradicating data to the 
extent that information cannot 
be retrieved through normal oper- 
ation but may be salvaged in a 
laboratory. 

• Sanitizing/purging: Removing data 
to a degree that it is beyond the 
reach of all ordinary and most lab- 
oratory recovery methods. This in- 
cludes degaussing, which employs a 
special coil tool to demagnetize a 
drive's magnetic media, scrambling 
all contents in the disk. 

• Destroying: As defined by the DoD, 
"Disintegrate, incinerate, pulverize, 
shred, or melt." 

Interestingly, the Army and Navy 
both condone the use of clearing and 
sanitizing. Only the Marines insist on 
physical destruction of the media. 



How much overwriting is necessary 
to safeguard civilian data? Greg Olson, 
senior director, product line man- 
agement for Ontrack (www.ontrack 
.com), says, "Ontrack is the largest 
data recovery company in the world. 
And I can tell you that if you overwrite 
with one pass or more, there are no 
commercially available data recovery 
services or software in the world that 
can recover that data in a usable form. 
But the multiple pass will give you 
protection at a governmental level 
where they may have access to highly 
specialized equipment." 

Note that apps such as Symantec's 
GoBack and the System Restore 




l&jrt&l 




Use a robust file-cleaning program such as 
SecureClean to permanently delete files and 
other data from your hard drive. 

function in Windows let trespassers 
revert a system to the state it was in 
before files were wiped. So be sure to 
remove the GoBack history after 
wiping files to ensure that no one can 
retrieve them using revert software. 
Then create a new "safe point" (by 
rebooting or selecting that feature 
from GoBack Deluxe), and the his- 
tory will have only the system state 
you want from then forward. 



Deletion Applications 

There is no shortage of software to 
help wipe your data once and for all. 
Many applications, however, are de- 
signed for non-Windows OSes and 
execute from a command prompt, a 



nongraphical interface with which 
many users may not be familiar. 
Following are a handful of some of 
the most feature-rich, intuitive 
Windows-based apps to help protect 
your valuable information. 

WhiteCanyon SecureClean. Ex- 
tremely easy to use and surprisingly 
powerful, SecureClean ($39.95; www 
.whitecanyon.com/index.php) works 
as both a standalone application and a 
Windows Explorer extension to let 
you wipe anything from a small file to 
a large folder or piece of removable 
media. Its primary function is to clean 
free space, file slack (the space be- 
tween the last byte in a file and the 
end of its cluster), and RAM slack. 
Data is written to the hard drive in 
512-byte chunks. If you only write a 
36-byte file, that still leaves 476 bytes 
of RAM slack info (data still floating 
around in your RAM space) that will 
also be written. Windows NT and its 
successors, however, automatically 
eliminate RAM slack. 

The software's options are volumi- 
nous without being incomprehen- 
sible. For starters, you can choose to 
plant a SecureClean Trash Bin icon 
on your Desktop, like the Recycle Bin 
but much safer, for permanent dele- 
tion. Add a password to allow only 
certain users access to SecureClean. 
You can opt to automatically clean 
the Recycle Bin, Windows Temp and 
Printer Spool folders, the Recent 
Documents List, and Internet Ex- 
plorer cache and history folders, as 
well as customize which cookies to 
clean. You can also schedule to per- 
form cleaning sessions at every logoff. 
SecureClean works on FAT and NTFS 
(NT file system) volumes and can 
perform one, three, seven, 12, or 35 
overwrite passes. The handy Zap tool 
also lets you eliminate individual files 
and folders from within the applica- 
tion or Windows Explorer. On top of 
an overhauled interface, the latest 
SecureClean (version 4) supports an 
undelete function and is the first 
product to assist in permanently 
wiping deleted email. 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 207 



Ii> Miscellanea 



The program includes some in- 
compatibilities with Norton's Pro- 
tected Recycle Bin, but you'll receive 
instructions on how to circumvent 
this problem. 

Infraworks InTether Sanitizer. 
Sometimes you want to wipe an en- 
tire drive rather than a file or group 
of files. There are plenty of apps, 
some of them free, dedicated to this 
use, but when it comes to security, 
you often get what you pay for. 
Sanitizer (www.infraworks.com) is an 
industrial-grade application on the 
"approved" short lists of organiza- 
tions such as the Department of 
Defense and the Air Force Informa- 
tion Warfare Center. Pricing ranges 
considerably depending on how 
many drive wipes you want the pro- 
gram to perform. (One to 19 wipes 
are $30 each.) 

Sanitizer requires you to boot the 
system from a floppy DOS boot 
diskette; then run the application 
from another diskette. (The app keeps 
track of how many times the software 
has been used and deducts from your 
license accordingly.) Unlike similar 
apps, Sanitizer is independent of the 
BIOS, so it will run on practically any 
PC. Three keystrokes into the pro- 
gram, you're wiping, which makes it 
one of the fastest drive wipers on the 
market. Be aware, though, that the 
program defaults to wiping all con- 
nected hard drives, so watch out and 
check the options if you're running 
multiple disks. The program cleans as 
much as 2.2 terabytes and wipes 1GB 
every nine to 16 minutes, depending 
on the system's hardware. A usual 
clean involves three overwrites plus a 
verify, although Sanitizer supports as 
many as 103 overwrites. 

Another plus for Sanitizer is that, 
unlike most competitors, the soft- 
ware will keep wiping even if it hits 
bad sectors. Imagine if you retired a 
mission critical drive, thinking you'd 
erased the entire media, when in fact 
your data eraser had only wiped the 
first 10% before erroring out. San- 
itizer prevents such gaffes. For any 



organization that needs complete as- 
surance of data eradication across an 
entire hard drive, Infraworks's San- 
itizer is beyond reproach. 

Ontrack DataEraser. Companies 
in the position of reselling, do- 
nating, or discarding any significant 
number of systems would do well to 
have a utility that securely wipes en- 
tire drives at a stroke. This is what 
Ontrack's DataEraser ($29.95 Per- 
sonal Edition; $500 Professional 
Edition; www.ontrack.com) does. 
Running the application prompts 
the user to create a bootable floppy 
that will run on any IBM-compatible 
PC. Just reboot with the diskette 




When you need a quick, efficient way to 
cleanse hard drive volumes, nothing beats 
Ontrack's DataEraser, which runs from a 
bootable floppy diskette and features some 
very useful reporting tools. 



inserted, and DataEraser runs you 
through an easy series of screens to 
select how you want the program to 
wipe your data. 

As effective as it is simple, 
DataEraser comes in Personal and 
Professional versions. The Personal 
Edition only conducts a single-pass 
wipe and functions on IDE (Inte- 
grated Drive Electronics)/ATA-type 
hard drives. The Professional Edition 
is compatible with SCSI (Small Com- 
puter System Interface) drives, sup- 
ports as many as 99 overwrites 
(including the three-pass U.S. DoD 
and seven-pass German standards), 
and offers greater reporting func- 
tionality, although both include a 



sector viewer, drive verification, and 
a bad sector log. 

Users can select which hard drive 
to erase, individual partitions within 
hard drives, and the hexadecimal 
character pattern to be used. At the 
conclusion of the wipe, users of the 
Professional Version can create a 
Validation Certificate giving infor- 
mation about the time and parties 
involved in the deletion. 

Final Word 

There is no shortage of statistics 
describing the costs associated with 
accidental file deletion ($500 million 
annually according to one estimate in 
The New York Times), but the num- 
bers on costs related to illicit data re- 
covery are far scarcer. One hint comes 
from a joint annual study by the 
Computer Security Institute and the 
FBI. The 2001 study indicated that 
"the most serious financial losses oc- 
curred through theft of proprietary 
information" and that 31% of respon- 
dents indicated attacks were made 
internally rather than via outside, 
Internet-based sources. Co-workers 
are just as capable of recovering and 
stealing secrets as any outside hacker, 
and companies must use caution to 
protect themselves and make sure 
erased data is irrecoverable. 

Similarly, individuals may face 
less risk in terms of monetary loss, 
but we all keep private, sometimes 
embarrassing, information on our 
computers. A few users employ en- 
cryption tools to keep this data 
hidden, but most are willing to per- 
form only the most rudimentary 
deletions before sending their hard 
drives off to another user or trusting 
their systems to acquaintances. 
Taking a few minutes to learn the ins 
and outs of a strong wiping utility 
and using it regularly may ultimately 
spare the user from a life-changing 
turn of events. \ks\ 

by William Van Winkle 



208 www.smartcomputing.com / Working With PC Files 



^J Miscellanea 



Fewer File 
Frustrations 

Solve Your File Compatibility Crises 



Have you been frustrated 
by files you can open at 
work but not at home? 
Does your graphics guru create 
images in an odd format that 
your computer can't display? 
Have you tried to open a file 
on a Web site, only to learn 
that you have to download a 
special viewer? If so, consider 
fighting your frustrations with 
file viewer software. 

A file viewer lets you view, 
and in some cases play, a va- 
riety of file formats with- 
out requiring you to have the 
program used to create the 
file. File viewers maintain the 
original format of the files 
they display. Although some viewers 
have file conversion capabilities, the 
main purpose of a viewer is to dis- 
play the contents of a file. 

Many software makers offer free file 
viewers, but downloading and using 
several viewers can be rather inefficient. 
The products reviewed here let you 
view and play from 40 to more than 
200 file formats. If you need to view a 
variety of file formats that your appli- 
cations can't handle, one of these prod- 
ucts may be just the right tool for 
beating your file frustrations. 

Features common to all products. 
Our review consists of three file 
viewers ranging from $27 to $35. 
With all three file viewers, you can 
perform a number of the same tasks, 
such as view a variety of document, 
spreadsheet, and graphics files; select 
and print all or a portion of a file; 
search for text; copy and paste por- 
tions of a file into other products; and 




launch software for editing the file 
with a program on your PC. 

In addition to these common fea- 
tures, each product offers an array of 
other tools. We break down the spe- 
cific components of each viewer. 

Drag And View 4.5 
$30 download 
Canyon Software 
www.canyonsw.com 

System requirements: 486 proces- 
sor or faster, 4.5MB hard drive space, 
Win9x/NT/2000/XP 

Features. Unlike the other products, 
this shareware program doesn't include 
support for creating zipped, or com- 
pressed, files. However, you can pur- 
chase a separate product called Drag 
And Zip to handle these functions. 

That said, we've included Drag And 
View in our review due to its notable 
graphics capabilities. This product 
converts graphics to 17 formats and 



includes tools for image editing, 
graphics effects, and screen captures. 

Supported formats. Drag And View 
supports more than 40 file formats, in- 
cluding 19 image formats. The product 
can display graphics, document, 
spreadsheet, presentation, and ZIP 
files, and it can play multimedia files. 
Ease of use. Drag And View does not 
include as many options for nav- 
igating and displaying files as the 
other products we'll examine, 
and you do not have an option 
for a split-pane view. However, 
when used in tandem with 
Windows Explorer, you can ob- 
tain a similar effect. The Drag 
And View screen attaches to the 
Windows Explorer screen (as- 
suming Windows Explorer is not 
maximized) when you open a 
file from Windows Explorer. 

Drag And View did not dis- 
play document formatting or 
graphics within the Microsoft 
Word documents we tested. It 
also displays garbled content 
rather than informing you 
when it does not recognize a file 
format. Like Quick View Pro, 
Drag And View can display a list of 
the files bundled within a ZIP file. 
However, Drag And View does not let 
you view the files from within the list. 
Aside from these limitations, Drag 
And View does a great job with 
graphics files and offers features not in- 
cluded in the other products. Its image- 
editing capabilities let you adjust 
attributes such as color, brightness, and 
contrast. You can also create inter- 
esting graphic effects such as mosaics 
and embossing. The product lacks 
cropping and resizing tools, however. 

File Viewer 4.5 
$27.50 download version 
Accessory Software 
www.accessoryware.com 

System requirements: Pentium 
processor, 50MB hard drive space, 
Win98/2000/Me/XP 

Features. File Viewer 4.5, a share- 
ware application, is a file viewer and 



Reference Series / Working With PC Files 209 



lQ Miscellanea 



file management utility. It is primarily 
intended as a tool for locating, dis- 
playing, and organizing files. File 
Viewer also comes with a compression 
program to create and open ZIP files, 
and it has some image-editing features. 

File Viewer offers many of the same 
features as Windows Explorer, and it 
offers an additional organization fea- 
ture that lets you group files without 
moving the files to a new folder. 

Supported formats. File Viewer 
supports more than 64 DOS, Macin- 
tosh, and Windows file formats. The 
product displays graphics, document, 
spreadsheet, database, and com- 
pressed files and plays a variety of 
multimedia files through its integra- 
tion with Windows Media Player. 

Ease of use. File Viewer employs a 
Windows Explorer-like interface, 
making file viewing fairly easy. How- 
ever, when performing other tasks, 
such as creating a ZIP file, this share- 
ware product is less than intuitive. The 
online Help information provides 
some guidance, but most tasks are not 
outlined in a concise format. In addi- 
tion, when using the product on a PC 
with 128MB of RAM, it did not have 
enough memory to function at times. 

Like Quick View Plus, the Open File 
With Another Application feature uses 
the file type associations already estab- 
lished on your computer. If you at- 
tempt to open an unrecognized file 
format, File Viewer gives you the op- 
tion to open it with another program. 

The organizational capabilities of 
File Viewer are notable. The organizer 
is essentially a database that lets you 
classify files on your computer in 
groups. The product comes with 10 
preset groups, including Multimedia, 
Text, and Spreadsheet, and you can 
create custom groups. The feature lets 
you associate comments, search 
words, and priority ratings with each 
file listed in a group. If you frequently 
open files that are scattered over your 
computer or a network, this tool can 
help you quickly find what you need. 

Image-editing features include the 
ability to adjust brightness and contrast 



and add text and shapes. Correction 
and effect features are not as extensive 
as Drag And View; however, File 
Viewer does offer image cropp